Sporting Kansas City II grabbed their first win of preseason on Saturday afternoon in their return to Swope Soccer Village, but more importantly, Paulo Nagamura had another opportunity to observe his side against a foreign opposition.
Sporting II brought a squad of 15 players total, none of which were academy players due to their trip to Texas while Will Little was also excluded from the squad. They were also without Camden Riley, Wilson Harris, and John Pulskamp, who were with the first team for their 2-1 defeat to the New York Red Bulls in their final tuneup for next weekend’s MLS opener in Vancouver.
Here is was the starting XI:
Substitutions: Fredinho Mompremier (45’); Jaret Townsend (60’); Duval Wopiwo (61’); Kohl Hurtado (61’)
The first half saw just one goal scored by Christian Duke, beating the keeper at the near post with a nice one-touch finish after trialist Enoch Mushagalusa showed good patience to find his captain inside the box.
Iowa Western CC found an equalizer early in the second half after recently signed goalkeeper Remi Prieur’s giveaway was easily finished by the Iowa Western forward. SKCII answered quickly after Ze Pedro scored with a curling effort to the far post to make it 2-1. Iowa Western CC were given a penalty after Prieur took out the legs of the attacker, but he made up for it and saved a poorly taken penalty down to his right.
Sporting II made it 3-1 after unsigned Sporting KC 2020 MLS SuperDraft pick Jaret Townsend had a nicely composed finish later in the second half. After Felipe Hernandez was chopped down in the box, a penalty was given and converted by Fredinho Mompremier, sending the keeper the wrong way in the final minutes of a 4-1 preseason win.
With a lot of questions coming into this season after returning just nine players from last season, some of those questions have come closer to a certain answer. Newly signed defender
, a former Dinamo Zagreb academy player, looked pretty good partnered with Danny Barbir, but the center backs will surely shift from game to game throughout the season with the six center backs currently on the first team roster.
With the offseason departures of Alexsander and Mark Segbers, both outside back positions are open for competition. Luis Olivera (right back) and trialist Sam Raben (left back), a product of the Colorado Rapids academy and Wake Forest University, played the entire 75 minutes.
The strongest and most experienced position throughout the season should be the midfield. The trio of Wan Kuzain, Christian Duke, and Felipe Hernandez is already strong enough, but you could also see players like Gianluca Busio and Gadi Kinda get a few starts as well as Cameron Duke joining his older brother in the midfield more often this season.
Goalkeeper Remi Prieur didn’t show very well today, with two big mistakes leading to Iowa Western’s goal and penalty, but I would anticipate John Pulskamp to be the first choice on most occasions this season.
Perhaps the most impressive player of the day was Enoch Mushagalusa. He was very involved early when he was on the left wing, but was less effective once he swapped with Ze Pedro on the right wing. Enoch was constantly looking to take defenders on and cut in to the right. If he could make quicker decisions on when to shoot, pass, or dribble Enoch could become a very dangerous winger for the future. He has already committed to play college soccer at the University of South Carolina, so it will be interesting to see if he ends his college career for this opportunity or not.
Sporting II will complete the remaining of their preseason with a Thursday visit to North Texas FC before heading to Tulsa FC on Saturday. SKCII will kickoff their third season under head coach Paulo Nagamura in the USL Championship with a match on March 8th at Children’s Mercy Park.