Sporting Kansas City started the day against the FC Tucson trialists with a 6-0 victory. That was over the course of just 60 minutes. After that they played two more games against the USL League One trialists in one and FC Arizona, each an additional 60 minutes.
Scrimmage #2 of the Day vs. FC Tucson Trialists
Second XI - Zendejas, Lindsey, Borath, Smith, Sinovic, Kuzain, Espinoza, Busio, Croizet, Hurtado, Gerso
It was almost certain that this game wouldn’t be as good as the first, with the boys having netted six goals in 60 minutes the first time out. The second group came out a little slower but then appeared to get on the board with a Roger Espinoza goal. Unfortunately it was deemed that Espinoza was offside so his lovely chip of the goalkeeper did not count. There is no VAR (or cameras) in the preseason, so the game remained 0-0.
Even though Sporting KC struggled to score early, one thing stood out and that was the play of Botond Borath. On every set piece he was flying through the air attacking the ball. He didn’t score any goals, but he consistently got on the end of balls and was dangerous around the box.
The first goal would come after some fantastic play from Gerso Fernandes. He consistently took on and beat defenders until he finally drew a foul in the box for a called penalty. Yohan Croizet would step up to the spot and bury the shot to make it 1-0 in the 12th minute.
In the 16th minute Sporting would score again. This time a lovely ball over the top from Borath would find the streaking Gerso. He pulled defenders with him to the left and he was able to slot a low ball across the face of the goal where a charging Gianluca Busio would ultimately get the tap in to make it 2-0.
The final goal of the game came just 11 minutes later in the 27th minute. Espinoza would start the play with a ball to Croizet out on the right wing. Croizet beat his defender and passed to Erik Hurtado in the box who banged his shot off the underside of the crossbar and into the net.
While the game ended 3-0, Sporting had several chances over the final 30+ minutes. The best chance came when Croizet who had dropped deep in the midfield took a ball and delivered a perfect long through ball to a streaking Gianluca Busio. As Busio fought off the defender for the shot it appeared a fourth goal was headed in but instead the keeper got a finger tip on it to push it off the crossbar and out of play.
Scrimmage #3 of the Day vs. FC Arizona
For the third 60 minute game of the day the FC Tucson trialists and coaches would leave and be replaced by NPSL club FC Arizona. The change was obvious as they worked together much better and had great communication in both English and Spanish since they are more accustomed to playing together.
Third XI - Dick, Little, Riley, Marriott, Bilyeu, Lepley, Hernandez, Freeman, Karani, Harris, Johnson
There were a few changes with the third group. Out is third round pick, center back Franky Martinez and SKC Academy midfielder Jake Davis. They were replaced by two SKC Academy players: defensive midfielder Tucker Lepley and winger Sean Karani. That pushed second round pick Camden Riley back to center back and Tyler Freeman from the wing into the midfield.
The third game was much more of a struggle. FC Arizona, while conceding a great deal of possession, were much more organized defensively and the players from the Academy, Swope Park Rangers, unsigned rookies and trialist Daniel Johnson struggled to break the defense down. At times, FCAZ kept 10 players behind the ball and it was tough to find space.
That isn’t to say there were no chances. The best early chance came from a Karani cut back to Freeman at the top of the box. Tyler Freeman took a touch and drilled the shot but a diving stop kept the score 0-0. Johnson tried to carve out his own chance taking on multiple defenders from his left wing spot before cutting the ball back to his right foot for a shot that the keeper again had to dive to stop.
The best chance of the game came for Arizona though. They moved the ball well up the left side, made several good passes, before sending a low ball across the box. Their attacker made great contact but a fantastic Eric Dick save would keep the game level.
Another mark of this game was how physical it was. Karani was taken down early and landed hard on his shoulder. During halftime he would have to get a bit of a brace put on his right shoulder.
Just before the half, Swope Park center forward Wilson Harris was taken down hard from behind. He would leave the game until halftime and during the break get his ankle wrapped. He returned to start the “second half” (it was, as with all the other games, just 15 minutes long). He couldn’t continue on his ankle though and would leave SKC down to 10 men. Despite that, SKC utterly dominated the final 15 minutes with Freeman playing a bit of a false 9 role. Despite the dominating they failed to find the goal again and the match ended 0-0.
For the day Sporting Kansas City managed nine goals in 180 minutes. They head back to Kansas City and will return to play two 75-minute games against Phoenix Rising FC on February 7th.