As we continue to be desperate for Sporting Kansas City soccer action, we’ll continue to over analyze every nuance of preseason. Before you begin, let’s look back at what got us here.
- Reactions after the first friendly against Phoenix Rising trialists
- Games 2 (Sporting AZ) and 3 (Colorado Rapids) + Full Stats through those three games
- Eight Overreactions from Sporting KC versus the New York Red Bulls
- Nine more Overreactions for the Phoenix Rising win.
The Undefeated Run Ends
Preseason couldn’t end with a perfect record of course. On the plus side, New England absolutely thrashed SKC last year (mostly because Igor Juliao was out of position if I remember correctly). This year, it was just a 2-1 loss and both the goals were SKC’s fault. First, Busio fell over while making a back pass straight to the Revs who then proceeded to almost miss a wide open net with a scuffed shot that was ultimately cleared by Emiliano Amor if not for Eric Dick’s butt putting it in. There is a joke in there somewhere but I’m going to leave it alone.
The 2-1 loss to the New England Revolution marked the first slip up of the offseason. Prior to that, the team had been undefeated but if you look at it more practically, they were 1-1-1 against MLS level competition and 3-0-0 against USL or lower levels.
One notable absence on Wednesday was Tim Melia in between the pipes. I didn’t get a chance to talk to Vermes after the game as he was doing media work with the team’s PR staff but my panicky brain says injury. I did see Tim on the bench and around, but I arrived to the stadium too late to see if he warmed up with the other keepers.
Here is to hoping that Melia was just getting a rest and giving some minutes to Adrian Zendejas and new signing Eric Dick.
Rubio Finally Scored But...
... it was just a penalty kick. Though that in itself is somewhat reassuring. If a striker is struggling mentally even putting away a PK can be a challenge. Diego Rubio seems more and more likely to be the backup on opening day especially with the high regards Peter Vermes holds for Khiry Shelton.
With the final preseason game on Saturday, Rubio may be out of chances to prove he should start. It seems highly likely this game will be treated as a dress rehearsal with the starters getting in lots of minutes and the possibility of a more traditional sub pattern (or lack of sub pattern... depending on how you look at it).
Speaking of the Starters
They looked quite sharp when they came on for the final 30 minutes. They were noticeably faster with their ball movement and they looked very confident in possession (which is nothing new). It was really striking how quickly they moved the ball compared to the backups (who ironically started this game). Obviously the real question that always remains with these guys is, “can they score.” On Wednesday they didn’t. That said, it was only Russell’s second game and Croizet is still figuring out how to be a winger.
Remember the Yohan
Yohan Croizet played on the right wing for the third straight game and I wouldn’t say he made improvements. He has said he prefers the #10 role but since the preseason games started being open to the public (and media) he’s not appeared there, so it’s tough to say where he looks better. Matt Besler had high praise for him when he joined the team in training camp, but we haven’t seen much of that yet.
He hustles like there is no tomorrow, which is something PV obviously admires, but often times he’s hustling to win back a ball he just lost. There are brief moments when he isn’t hustling and it’s often after a poor touch where he is visibly upset with himself on the field. I have to imagine Sporting KC have a sports psychologist on staff and Croizet may want to make regular appointments. As an attacking player, lost balls and missed shots have to be quickly forgotten as you work towards the next opportunity to score. Here is to hoping Yohan figures it out, or Vermes figures out he isn’t a winger and gets him back inside.
That Young Midfield
The midfield of Gianluca Busio (15), Felipe Hernandez (19) and Wan Kuzain Wan Kamal (19) — who has decided to go by Kuzain — got 60 minutes against MLS competition on Wednesday. As a unit, they had by far their worst game. Kuzain and Hernandez didn’t look terrible but Busio sure did. He had his worst game since turning pro, but it is just preseason. I can’t remember if it was the announcers Wednesday or against Phoenix Rising (I think it was Matt Lawrence), but they said it best when they mentioned he appeared to be moving just a bit too slow.
He’s clearly use to being the best (or one of the best) players on the field and the pressure that the Revs put on him had him bending and breaking. His awful turnover in the first half where he completed a back pass inside his own 18 yard box to a Revolution player was the main reason for the first goal. Plus he was falling all over the place on the hard Tucson ground. These things happen though and Busio and his likely Swope Park Ranger teammates will have to learn and grow from those failures.