If you missed it, I overreacted to the first preseason game against a team of USL trialists from last weekend. Two more games have happened since then, so it’s time to take as deep of a dive as is possible from a few tweets and match recaps.
Sporting KC Will Go Undefeated in 2018
Ok, I did say it was overreactions right. The team is currently 3-0 in preseason with a win over a team of players trying to make Phoenix Rising (USL), a fourth division team in the UPSL (Sporting AZ) and over the team that finished almost at the bottom of the table in MLS in the Colorado Rapids.
During those three games they’ve scored eight goals and allowed one. They’ve also used 35 players over that time. At this pace they’ll average 2.67 goals per game. Let’s not get our hopes up since the competition isn’t up to par. Here are the full stats from preseason so far.
2018 Preseason Midpoint SKC Stats
|Wan Zuzain Wan Kamal||3||165|
*Trialist could be one or more people. One time he was listed as a center back and twice as a right back. There is simply no way to know if it’s the same guy at this point, but I’ve considered it one person. Since I’ve published this, SKC put out their own stats showing the trialist is one person.
Medranda and Zusi are Hurt
Three games and Jimmy Medranda and Graham Zusi haven’t played since the first one. Hopefully it’s nothing serious, but this probably isn’t an overreaction. Preseason is the time to get players into shape, to find their form and start to work on chemistry with teammates. In the past Peter Vermes has admitted to minor injuries and not wanting to take chances. Some of those minor injuries weren’t so minor though. Let’s hope these are or the starting options at right back are a 17-year-old kid or a second year player with zero MLS minutes.
Lindsey is Ahead of Storm
I said this once and I’ll repeat it. Jaylin Lindsey is the next right back on this team ahead of Colton Storm. In three straight preseason games he’s been ahead of Storm on the depth chart. That has meant two starts (with Zusi not playing) and one game with the second team compared to Storm’s one game with the second team and two with the third. Colton isn’t out of shape as he dazzled in the annual beep test, he simply may not be as good as Lindsey. Especially long term.
I still think Lindsey spends most of the year with the Swope Park Rangers (Shawnee Mission Rangers?) and Storm gets some bench time in MLS, but without a vast improvement, Storm likely doesn’t get a ton of MLS minutes (unless Zusi really is hurt).
Lobato is not a Starter
Despite what the numbers show, Cristian Lobato isn’t a stater. At least I don’t think. I hope he has made vast improvements with his first offseason with the team, but it seems there are likely to be better options available. He has three starts, two on the wing and one at left back and he has a goal and an assist. I still just don’t think he’s the guy.
On the wings, new signing Johnny Russell, Gerso and Daniel Salloi are probably all ahead of him. At left back Seth Sinovic and Jimmy Medranda are potentially ahead of him too. Maybe I’m wrong and he’ll earn that $180,000 salary in 2018 (which is more than Jimmy and Seth make individually).
Gerso will Score 0.67 Goals Per Game
Obviously this is nonsense but it’s his current pace. One of those came against a fourth division team but one came against Tim Howard. Whoever the goals are going in against, it’s good for a man’s confidence to keep putting balls in the back of the net. Gerso got worn down at the end of 2017 and really fell off a cliff in terms of production, but if a full offseason can provide him the relief he needs, he could break his personal best scoring record he set in 2017 (eight in league play).
Busio, Wan Kamal and Hernandez are the SPR Midfield
That math might not make sense since both Felipe Hernandez and Gianluca Busio are likely to play the #10 role (if Busio isn’t in at forward). But that’s been a midfield setup that’s been on the field for two of the three games with their second team. Hernandez may have the skills to play the box-to-box #8 role while allowing Busio to create. He was subbed off a lot in 2017, so depth may be needed. Cameron Duke can likely play that role too and an Academy contract wouldn’t surprise me, but nothing is official yet.
Wan Kuzain Wan Kamal mostly played at the #6 holding midfielder role with SPR in 2018 and he’s reprised that role in preseason with SKC. James Musa appears destined for SKC’s bench, so Wan Kamal should be freed up to get a lot more minutes in 2018.
Dykstra will be Cut
It’s only one game, but Andrew Dykstra gave up his third team goalkeeper spot to #1 SuperDraft pick Eric Dick in the third preseason game. First it was Adrian Zendejas getting his minutes with the second team, now Dykstra can’t get out on the field. He could be hurt, but it seems likely SKC want to see what they have in Dick.
It just doesn’t seem like there are room for four goalkeepers on a 30-man roster. It’s possible they keep Dykstra around to ride the bench while Zendejas and Dick battle for minutes with Swope Park, but that might be too much of a luxury.
Diego Rubio May Never Score Again
Obviously it’s only been three games, but I’m overreacting here. He has only been on the pitch for 105 minutes through three preseason games, but he’s had plenty of shots according to the recaps but hasn’t finished. Could the pressure of someone being potentially brought in as a Designated Player #9 to replace him be weighing on his shoulders?
If he were to score in the next friendly his goals per 90 minutes ratio would be right back inline but it still has to be a concern especially based on the level of opponents he faced. On top of that, he was moved to the second unit in the third game and Khiry Shelton scored while in with the starters.
The Media will Never Get in a Game
Just kidding. There is at least one trialist on Sporting Kansas City and who knows how many playing for all the teams they’ve played so the teams understandably want to keep it under wraps. One has to imagine that player or players has a better chance of making the Swope Park Rangers than SKC based on how full the roster already looks (shout out to Mike for his deep breakdown).
Sporting KC are now done with the first leg of preseason and will return to Kansas City to practice in the brand new National Training and Coaching Development Center. Then they’ll return to Arizona, but this time to Tucson, for the Mobile Mini Sun Cup where they will play in four more games, all of which are open to the public.
Tickets are on sale (or included if you are a Phoenix Rising season ticket holder) for the Saturday games but the Wednesday games are free to attend but will be without the amenities that are standard on the weekend games (if the trends from 2017 continue).