Sporting Kansas City are now two games into their 2021 preseason campaign. This time, they were matched against the now 3-0-0 Colorado Rapids (they split their squad and beat Phoenix and Portland earlier in the week). Colorado pulled off a late 1-0 win, but results aren’t everything in preseason.
Once again (like last weekend against Phoenix Rising), we are without a stream or the ability to watch the games live. No fans. No media. Nothing. Ironically, I was in Tucson, Arizona on a pre-planned trip that coincided with this schedule game which makes it all the more brutal that no one could watch (in particular, that I couldn’t, since I’m selfish... though I would have shared).
That said, we can pull a few things from the Tweets and the recaps, so let’s do that. For reference, here are the recaps from the teams:
Once again, let’s assume these are in the following format:
RB - RCB - LCB - LB
RCM - LCM
RW - CF - LW
First 45 minutes:
Lindsey, K. Rad, Fontas, Martins
Busio, Walter (Kinda 31’)
Russell, Pulido, Salloi
Second 45 minutes:
Pierre, Constant (Smith 74’), Puncec, Dia
Duke, Kinda (Freeman 52’)
Barber, Harris, Shelton
Walter Makes his Debut
Remi Walter gets onto the field after missing the opening preseason game. He slotted in for a 30 minute run out in (what is typically) Gadi Kinda’s LCM spot. I think too much still can’t be read into the lineups as Kaveh Rad of SKC II got his second straight “start.” So Walter being at LCM or RCM doesn’t mean a ton for me (it sure sounds like Vermes sees him as Roger’s replacement). Busio being next to him in the midfield doesn’t mean much for me either.
Kinda didn’t play long, so it’s possible he’s dealing with something and trying to ensure he’s healthy too. Not a lot of minutes to go around in general but I suspect the split squad match where Sporting play against themselves on Tuesday the 30th could be the first time most players go 90 minutes.
It’ll be interesting to see what, if anything, is shown from that match. For balance, it might make sense to still split the squads to keep them balanced, but at some point, you have to put your likely starters together.
The game against Portland this week is a chance to see the “starters” go 60 minutes, so I might start putting more weight on who starts in that game (outside of fitness issues with guys like Walter, Espinoza, Isimat-Mirin and potentially even Pulido).
The Return of Pulido
Alan Pulido had a minor “knock” and missed last weekend’s game. He can be seen in the highlights below with tape on his legs. However, seeing him play is a plus no matter what. It’s possible the team will see him play again Wednesday (against the Portland Timbers) before he leaves to join Mexico for National Team duty that will cause him to miss most of the rest of preseason but shouldn’t prevent him from making the opener.
Espinoza Still MIA; Isimat-Mirin Coming Soon
The only players still out of this game were Roger Espinoza (who appears to be one of the guys with a “knock”) and new center back signing Nicolas Isimat-Mirin. No update on the status of Espinoza but we do have an update on the status of the newest French CB.
Nicolas Isimat-Mirin has his P1 Visa and pending his PCR test should arrive tomorrow in training camp #SportingKC— Thad (@TheBackpost) March 18, 2021
He has apparently arrived and is likely in quarantine now. Peter Vermes seemed to indicate he was coming straight from Europe so it’ll probably take that quarantine period to get adjusted to the time change since it’s so drastic but he could be available quite soon.
The only other player I didn’t see listed anywhere was Ozzie Cisneros, though he played the prior week.
More Hernandez at the 6
Like last weekend, the backup at the #6 spot was Felipe Hernandez. He’s not showing up in the highlights but the only goal came off a set piece so at least he must not have struggled in the run of play. I’m very interested to see how he takes to this position with so many other midfielders likely ahead of him at the dual #8 spots (Busio, Kinda, Walter, Espinoza). He also would appear to provide more athleticism than Ilie Sanchez at defensive midfield. However, he also lacks size (though he said in an interview he’s working on muscle mass). His height could be a problem on set pieces if he’s paired with smaller midfielders like Busio and Kinda.
Before we go any further, it may help to check out the highlights. It’s tough to see much but there are some half-chances in there and the goal from Colorado happens far from the camera so it’s tough to tell what happens. The Rapids are a good defensive team, but a longer game with more of the starters in together will definitely lead to better chances.
Recap: Sporting KC falls 1-0 to the Colorado Rapids on a late winner ➡️ https://t.co/g80NEA8sFz— Sporting Kansas City (@SportingKC) March 21, 2021
We're back in action Wednesday at 1 p.m. CT against the Portland Timbers.#SKCPreseason Highlights ⏬ | @ChildrensMercy pic.twitter.com/nlvaQzSKLD
Late PK Shout
Towards the end of the highlights, Khiry Shelton gets brought down in the box but there isn’t a call made. It’s hard to tell from the low angle if the ball gets a bit away from Khiry but the Rapids defender definitely gets his hands on Khiry from behind, appearing to tug at his arm. When you are running that fast, it doesn’t take much to throw off balance and there is clearly no effort to play the ball. It’s preseason, so it doesn’t matter. But if there was VAR, that’d been one to take a look at during the season (plus there will be many more angles).