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Blue Notes: Sporting KC Preseason Schedule and a Trialist Interview

And the fallout from the NWSL/NWSLPA investigation into misconduct around the league.

MLS: Sporting KC Media Event
Jan 6, 2023; Kansas City, Kansas, US; Sporting KC midfielder Nemanja Radoja answers questions from reporters at the Compass Minerals National Performance Center.
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Sporting Kansas City preseason is underway in Arizona and the Kansas City Current are making waves signing one of the best players in the world. What a time to be a KC sports fan! Let’s get to the news.

Sporting KC Preseason Schedule

As a part of the roster reveal from yesterday, Sporting Kansas City also announced their preseason schedule. All five games will be played in Phoenix Rising’s soccer complex. The unclear point is if that will be at their most recent location at the Wild Horse Pass or if it’ll be at their forthcoming new destination at 38th St and Washington in Downtown Phoenix (their third stadium location since the rebrand from Arizona United).

During the trip, SKC play two MLS teams (Portland Timbers, Real Salt Lake), two USL Championship teams (hosts Phoenix Rising and Louisville City) and one college (Grand Canyon University). The Louisville games should be of particular interest as former players Wilson Harris, Amadou Dia and Enoch Mushagalusa (SKC II) all played there in 2022.

All the games are closed to the public.

The closed-door nature of the games could have something to do with the sale of FC Tucson. They were formerly under the Phoenix Rising umbrella, but they’ve been sold and dropped from USL League One to League Two. When you visit their website, the link to the “Desert Showcase” just returns a 404 error. The Desert Showcase and competitions like the Desert Diamond Cup or Mobile Mini Sun Cup featured open to the public games in years past.

That’s definitely a disappointment for those planning to head to Arizona for preseason. Here is the full schedule in Central Time, but Phoenix is currently in Mountain time and one hour behind these times.

2023 SKC Preseason Schedule

Date Time (CT) Opponent
Date Time (CT) Opponent
Saturday, Jan. 21 1 p.m. Portland Timbers
Saturday, Jan. 28 12 p.m. Grand Canyon Univ.
Saturday, Feb. 4 2 p.m. Louisville City FC
Wednesday, Feb. 8 1 p.m. Real Salt Lake
Saturday, Feb. 18 12 p.m. Phoenix Rising FC

The team did state the @SKCMatchday Twitter account will give live updates.

More Details on Trialist Mejia

If you missed it, we updated the initial Yeison Mejia rumor with the news from Daniel Sperry that confirmed he was on trial with the first team (and the team has since confirmed that). Now the player himself is confirming those and other details in an interview.

“There is no signed contract yet, but I am going to do the pre-season with them, they want to observe me to see if I can convince the coach (Peter Vermes) and once I do, I can stay and sign the final contract,” said Mejia to Diez (per Google Translate).

He also talked about an offer from a Greek club but said it wasn’t worth the move monetarily. Additionally, he confirmed if the trial doesn’t work out, he would return to Real Espana who he acknowledged he signed an extension with that had an option to go abroad before January 31st if an offer came along.

I don’t think this rules out a move to Sporting KC II if he can’t earn a first team spot. MLS Next Pro has more international spots available, and they can pay just as much or more in that league due to the relaxed rules to give him time to work towards a first team deal.

Corrective Action in the NWSL

On Monday, the National Women’s Soccer League announced corrective action in the fallout from the NWSL/NWSLPA investigation into misconduct around the league. The press release goes into all the punishments, including “permanent exclusion” for former coaches Paul Riley, Christy Holly, Rory Dames and Richie Burke. There are a multitude of other suspensions and details.

The KC Current escaped any punishment.

“Kansas City Current: While it is concerning that several players raised concerns about being mistreated or retaliation upon raising those concerns, there is no finding that the club retaliated against players.”

SKC II Sign Homegrown Midfielder

On Monday Sporting KC II announced the signing of 21-year-old Enzo Mauriz. He came from the SKC Academy and then spent three years at the University of Kentucky before signing a pro contract. He had seven goals and five assists last season while starting in 20 of 21 appearances. According to the release he is “capable of playing multiple midfield positions.” He stands at 6’1, which is good size, particularly from Sporting’s academy.

He joins Ethan Bryant as only the second midfielder signed to the second team.

MLS Next Pro climbs to 28 teams in 2023 and SKC II will start preparations (preseason start?) in February.

Quick Notes

  • Daniel Sperry at the KC Star hits us with three burning questions for Sporting KC as preseason gets underway.
  • More on SKC preseason trialist Nassim Mekideche from the Northern Tribune. Apparently, he did a good job of bolstering their defense.
  • Sporting KC Preseason is back! Let’s play a game of how many people we can spot in the pictures. I see Willy Agada, Carlito Saylon, John Pulskamp, Kortne Ford, Gadi Kinda, Uri Rosell, Ben Sweat, Andreu Fontas, Nemanja Radoja, Johnny Russell and Mo Abualnadi. I’m unsure on the blurry guy in the foreground in the 2nd and 3rd picks. Maybe it’s Yeison Mejia? Can you make out any of the blurry figures?
  • Former KC Current midfielder Addie McCain, who recently mutually parted ways with the team, has landed in the Windy City with the Chicago Red Stars.
  • With yesterday’s Debinha news, let’s get silly with a lineup “prediction.” In retrospective, I want to switch DiBernardo and LaBonta, but I think the point stands.
  • Gareth Bale retires from professional soccer.