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Sporting KC v Portland Timbers: Preseason Highlights and Observations

It’s preseason and we only have less than three minutes of video, but let’s see what little can be pulled from it and the other information the team provided.

MLS: Portland Timbers at Sporting Kansas City Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

On Thursday, Sporting Kansas City battled the Portland Timbers to a 2-2 draw. Unfortunately, no one was allowed into the closed door scrimmage other than those affiliated with the teams. We mostly had the SKC Matchday Twitter account, Portland’s account, the team’s recap and some post-game interviews to try and analyze what happened.

Now, we’ve got some highlights (thanks Sporting KC!). It’s my first attempt at taking video sent without audio and putting something together, so don’t mind that, it’s still some SKC soccer. Enjoy!

Who Played and Who Didn’t?

Here are the lineups for SKC, courtesy of the team. Reading those lineups it reads as a 4-3-3, from back to front, right to left.

First Half: Tim Melia; Graham Zusi, Nicolas Isimat-Mirin, Andreu Fontas, Ben Sweat (Spencer Glass 23’); Uri Rosell, Remi Walter, Roger Espinoza (Cam Duke 35’); Johnny Russell, Khiry Shelton, Daniel Salloi

Second Half: John Pulskamp; Kayden Pierre, Aljaz Dzankic, Robert Voloder, Logan Ndenbe; Jose Mauri, Felipe Hernandez, Cam Duke (Jake Davis 75’); Grayson Barber, Ozzie Cisneros, Tyler Freeman

The names you might not recognize are Aljaz Dzankic and Spencer Glass, both of whom are signed to SKC II.

This game saw the first appearances for Roger Espinoza (35 minutes), Ben Sweat (23 minutes), Jose Mauri, Logan Ndenbe and Robert Voloder (45 minutes each). The players who didn’t play are Kortne Ford (yet to appear) and Kaveh Rad (who did play the first preseason game). Marinos Tzionis also didn’t play, but he is not in the country yet.

Otherwise, every other member of the roster played, outside of the announced surgeries to Pulido and Kinda.

Highlight Quick Thoughts

  • Nice little nutmeg from Ben Sweat at the start of the video.
  • How does Isi slide through the defense like that? Great ball from Zusi but how in the world does it fall like that? He does seem like he’s going to be a decent goal scoring threat from CB. And he seems to have the athleticism to get back on defense too, which is great.
  • In the first preseason game and the lone instance we saw in these highlights, Remi Walter was taking the free kick set pieces. He once again tests the keeper with a good ball in these highlights, but the keeper gets to it and pushes it wide.
  • When did Portland start wearing pink? I guess the same could be said of SKC wearing gray training tops, which is a long standing tradition, but has no impact on their kits.
  • Johnny Russell doing Johnny Russell things on his goal. It’s always remarkable that defenders are unaware he wants to go to his left foot or at least unable to stop him.
  • SKC II signing Spencer Glass has a nice steal and calmly plays out of the pressure.
  • It’s promising how dominant the first team appeared in the first 1:30 of the highlights. Obviously this package is put together by the team, but following along with Portland’s Twitter showed they didn’t write much of anything until the second half, when they appeared to take over with their two goals.
  • There isn’t much from the second half but the highlights tend to lean towards the right side of the lineup (Pierre, Barber). That could just be because the camera was on that side, but Vermes mentioned the new players struggling a bit as they just don’t know the system yet (Voloder, Ndenbe) and they are on the left side.