This past Saturday Sporting Kansas City kicked off their preseason with a friendly against some trialists for Phoenix Rising FC (USL). Before we get too excited about a 2-1 win, we have to remember many of these guys they were playing against won’t even make a USL roster. Especially not one as good as PRFC is likely to put out in 2018.
The biggest disappointment from Saturday is that Phoenix Rising officials wouldn’t let the public OR the media into this scrimmage, possibly because the PRFC players weren’t signed. That said, let’s overreact to the six tweets and recap the team put out.
The Kids Are Alright
SKC Academy and Homegrown players Daniel Salloi, Jaylin Lindsey and Gianluca Busio accounted for two goals and an assist on Saturday. Salloi, the old man of the group at the ripe old age of 21, scored first when he was assisted by Cristian Lobato in the first of three thirty minute periods.
In the second “period” Lindsey (17) was able to assist Busio (15) to make it 2-0. That kind of play will likely have fans excited and will give people a reason to watch the Swope Park Rangers, where Busio and Lindsey are likely to be featured for most, if not all, of 2018.
Zendejas > Dykstra
Of course Tim Melia, reigning MLS Goalkeeper of the Year, started for Sporting KC. But he was replaced in the second 30 minute period by Adrian Zendejas, not Andrew Dykstra, who got all the backup minutes in 2017. That and the drafting of rookie goalkeeper Eric Dick, has to leave Dykstra’s position with the team as questionable. Keeping four goalkeepers may not be an option but I could see Peter Vermes wanting a veteran around just in case.
Dykstra also allowed the only goal of the game against Sporting, though he clearly had the most questionable team ahead of him. He has a fourth round pick at left back (Wilfred Williams) and someone named “Trialist” at CB next to brand new Homegrown signing Matt Lewis. Side note: that poor trialist has no chance of getting on SKC with the six or seven CBs they already have.
Amer Didic Gets the Start
Didic, who never got on the field for SKC in 2017, started alongside Matt Besler on Saturday. Of course, Ike Opara is the starter but was away on National Team duty for the United States.
Add that to the fact that new signing Emiliano Amor likely isn’t even with the team yet as he awaits his VISA and it’s unclear how far down the depth chart Didic will end up being. It’s likely he’ll be third or fourth, with James Musa as the emergency CB and all those rookies and Homegrown players will be with SPR.
Seth Sinovic Will Still Start
In 2017 Seth Sinovic was with the “2nd team” early in preseason. But he was still the primary starter at left back during the season. Expect the same in 2018 despite Jimmy Medranda once again taking the field with the first team on Saturday.
Medranda almost has to be a midfielder with the utter lack of depth at the position and Cristian Lobato, despite playing on the wing, has the ability to play left back and may be considered depth there (as well as at other positions). Look not further than the 2nd midfield of Cameron Duke (Academy), Wan Kuzain Wan Kamal (SPR) and Busio (Homegrown) to know that the midfield depth is hurting.
Additionally, Sinovic is a natural leader and organizer. So while Melia and Roger Espinoza could organize the first team, they needed Seth out there to handle the second.
Busio is Croizet’s Backup
Speaking of Busio, not only did the kid score a goal in his debut with the first team, but he did it from the #10 position. He appears to have the ability to play that role, #9 or out wide and he found the net from the middle of the field.
Because of that, he could be the backup #10 behind Croizet. Probably not on opening day, and I definitely expect him to be with the Rangers a lot, but by the middle of the year he could be getting on the field. That was his stated goal when he signed last year.
Lindsey > Storm
17-year-old Jaylin Lindsey came on with the second team defense instead of second year player Colton Storm. Storm was hit or miss in his debut season, getting zero minutes in MLS, but racking up inconsistent play in USL. I’d expect Storm to sit the bench in MLS a lot this year with Lindsey getting those SPR minutes but Lindsey is the RB of the future (if he doesn’t get sold before the future arrives).
Not only did Lindsey assist Busio on Saturday, but he also reportedly nearly scored when Kharlton Belmar sent him through only to be denied by the Phoenix keeper.