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Five Observations from Sporting KC’s Preseason Draw Against Colorado

Plus a bunch of quick hitter observations across the roster and play.

MLS: Sporting Kansas City at Colorado Rapids Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Sporting Kansas City played their second preseason game leading up to the 2022 season, this time against the Colorado Rapids (they played the USMNT behind closed doors last week). The game ended in a 0-0 draw, but it’s great to see some SKC action and there are tiny bits of insight that can be drawn from the 90 minutes. However, don’t get too crazy about things as it is preseason and it takes time to settle in.

Missing Players

We’ll get to who played in a moment, but let’s talk about who didn’t. Of course new signings Robert Voloder and Marinos Tzionis were absent, as it’s our understanding they aren’t in the country yet. However, fellow new signing Logan Ndenbe who just arrived in the last couple of days didn’t play either.

Of the first team guys that have been with the team during preseason, the team was missing Roger Espinoza, Ben Sweat, Jose Mauri, Kortne Ford and Kendall McIntosh (but that’s probably just because he’s the 3rd keeper).

Peter Vermes had said, “we’re missing a lot of guys,” so it’s reasonable to think these were potentially some of the guys he was talking about. Let’s hope it’s nothing, but we’ll have to ask Peter at the next media availability.

Lineups

First half lineup (back to front, right to left):

Tim Melia, Graham Zusi, Nicolas Isimat-Mirin, Andreu Fontas, Spencer Glass (potential SKC II signing), Uri Rosell, Remi Walter, Cam Duke, Johnny Russell, Khiry Shelton, Daniel Salloi

Second half lineup:

John Pulskamp, Kayden Pierre, Brett St. Martin (draft pick), Kaveh Rad, Coby Jones (SKC Academy), Jahon Rad (SKC II), Felipe Hernandez, Jake Davis, Grayson Barber, Ozzie Cisneros, Tyler Freeman

Not much to take from this as most of the positional battles weren’t in effect because of injuries. Maybe the most that can be taken is that Duke was ahead of Hernandez in the midfield. Otherwise, only one defensive midfielder played (Rosell) and neither rostered left back played. PV would tell you to read nothing into this, but it’s something to keep an eye on.

Also, Cisneros was playing the false 9 with Freeman on the left wing with the 2nd lineup. It’s something we’ve seen from both players, but we’ve also seen Freeman in that false 9 role before too.

Worth noting, each lineup got a straight 45 minutes on the field.

Coby Jones

No, not Cobi Jones. This is an SKC Academy product who got some limited time with SKC II last season. He can play left back or on the left wing and was in defense today. I thought he played really well, considering the Rapids left the “starters” on for 15 extra minutes. He was up and down the field and handled himself quite well. The defense struggled at times, but it wasn’t him.

I had long thought that LB Isaiah LeFlore could be the next SKC Academy signing to make the leap to at least SKC II, but he is now in Portugal. So Jones is someone to watch who hopefully will get some extensive time with the second team this year to see what he has.

Khiry Shelton

No one is expecting Shelton to be a 10 goal a season guy, and that’s simply not his play style, but when he returned from Germany in 2020 I thought he showed good improvement. He stood out to me today as not having a great game. I distinctly remember three fairly bad turnovers, and who knows what happened on the right side of the screen when there were some issues earlier in the stream with seeing what was going on over there.

It’s preseason, so let’s not crucify anyone, but it did make me hope the Jose Macias rumors are true. Competition is good for everyone.

Kaveh Rad

If Shelton had a bit of a rough game, K. Rad had a really bad one. When the second lineup took the field, they started off pretty slick for the first few minutes before having a tough go for the rest of the second half. They maintained a clean sheet, but that feels like it had less to do with their play and more to do with Colorado’s bad finishing.

Kaveh Rad gave away the ball in bad spots quite a few times. Colorado were offside on one play that would have surely led to a goal and Diego Rubio missed from a pretty advantageous position on another occasion. I don’t want to beat K. Rad up too much because Michael Barrios gave him a ton of trouble, and he had a hat trick on Ike Opara a few seasons back, so he’s tough to deal with.

This is a blow in his battle to be further up the CB depth chart. Ford would appear to be Isi’s backup and Voloder could sneak in and be Fontas’ if Rad can’t get settled in. I thought his brother played pretty good, though everyone had some mistakes, it’s preseason.

Really Quick Hits

  • Lucas Esteves would have been sent off for the Rapids if this was a regular season game. He got a yellow for a shoving match with Russell and then later stopped a counter with a jersey tug. No one wants to see 10 men versus 11 in preseason though.
  • Speaking of Russell, you wouldn’t know it was preseason. He was busting his butt out there and getting quite feisty with Esteves.
  • I know SKC play out of the back, but they were really pinned deep early but managed to not make any mistakes. It just always makes me so nervous.
  • Spencer Glass acquainted himself well with the “starters” and was solid. If he is signing with SKC II (as was rumored), it’ll be interesting to see how he does with less talented players around him.
  • I love Jake Davis’ feisty play. He had a noticeable error they got away with, but I generally love his tenacity and thought he played well overall.
  • It was VERY good to see Felipe Hernandez back on the field. He looks to be picking up right where he left off. Interested to see what he can do with the “starters” and hopefully he’ll get that chance. His combination play with Salloi was pretty great in 2021, we just didn’t get a chance to see it enough.