Update: Video highlights added at 10:37 PM.
Sporting Kansas City were back in action for the second time this preseason looking to make up for the 1-0 loss to the Portland Timbers. This time, the team would take a step down in competition and a step up in minutes. They played a full 90-minutes (instead of 60 like last week), stretched across two lineups (and all three GKs) against Grand Canyon University.
It was once again behind closed doors, so social media posts are all we have to dig into, but the game went as one would hope against much lesser competition. Even the “backups” (who knows who is a starter, but there was a clear distinction between the lineups) rolled over GCU.
The team would bang in eight (!!) goals in 90-minutes, with the first lineup netting three and the second adding five more. Both Willy Agada and Marinos Tzionis earned a brace.
According to the SKC Matchday Twitter account, here were the goals (with the assists inferred, but no one outside the teams was watching, so I’ll be liberal with second assists).
- 13’ - Willy Agada (Erik Thommy)
- 21’ - Own Goal against GCU
- 28’ - Willy Agada (Daniel Salloi, Ben Sweat)
- 46’ - Shaun Joash [he’s a trialist]
- 51’ - Danny Flores (Yieson Mejia)
- 70’ - Marinos Tzionis
- 70’ - Jake Davis
- 80’ - Marinos Tzionis (Felipe Hernandez)
That’s right, two goals in under a minute in the 70th!
It’s still too early to read too much into the lineups, but there was a more clearly defined line between the “starters” and the “backups.” Also of note is that each goalkeeper again played one-third of the game. First it was Tim Melia, off at the 30th minute for Kendall McIntosh who was off at the 60th for John Pulskamp. They ‘pitched’ a combined shutout in the 8-0 win.
Your #SportingKC starters vs. @GCU_MSoccer:— Sporting Matchday (@SKCmatchday) January 28, 2023
Roger Espinoza (holding)
Daniel Salloi#SKCPreseason // @ChildrensMercy
The second-half XI for #SportingKC— Sporting Matchday (@SKCmatchday) January 28, 2023
Felipe Hernandez (holding)
Marinos Tzionis#SKCPreseason // @ChildrensMercy
A few basic observations can be made from these lineups, but these lineups are also littered with players who are not officially on the roster (Joash, Mekideche, Rindov).
The thing that stood out to me first (besides the players missing — more on that in a moment) was Roger Espinoza and Felipe Hernandez playing defensive (or holding) midfielder. Last week it looked like Hernandez also played d-mid, but Flores did in the other game (per the lineup order and short video released).
I won’t rule out that the formation was fluid because Remi Walter has been known to play the 6 (d-mid) and he was out there, plus Flores was in the lineup with Hernandez. However, if it really is Roger and Felipe, then I think that’s smart. This team is absolutely loaded at guys who can play the 8/10 role (Sporting KC kind of play dual 8s — box-to-box midfielders). They have Thommy, Kinda, Walter, Espinoza, Hernandez, Duke and Davis. Flores probably goes into that bucket too.
So instead of Roger and Felipe only being subs, maybe you can see if they are capable of playing deeper in the midfield to fix a hole from the 2022 roster. Especially because Radoja has yet to play and I think it’s assumed he’ll have every shot at being the starting defensive midfielder, particularly with the release of Uri Rosell.
Who Didn’t Play?
The main thing that stands out from lineups, when they tend to mean so little in preseason, is who wasn’t on the field. Missing this week were Nemanja Radoja, Tim Leibold, Logan Ndenbe, Graham Zusi, Ozzie Cisneros, Alan Pulido, Gadi Kinda and Khiry Shelton.
Leibold seems like he is still overseas according to his social media posts. The rest also set out last week with the exception of Cisneros. No word yet from the team, but last week the story was all minor knocks that the team didn’t want to take any chances with. I suspect that’s the answer we can hear again (at least I hope it is).
Any Other Takeaways?
- With only three first team center backs in the game (and one out of position), the team is definitely in need of a signing (or two) there. Perhaps it’ll be Ferro, who had a rumor about him come out in the last week.
- Despite the step down in competition, it’s still good to see Sporting KC scoring goals in waves. If they had only scored a couple, I think that would have been somewhat disappointing, but eight goals (and none given up) feels about right for playing a college team if SKC are really going to be contenders in 2023.
- This set of lineups was a good reminder that Cam Duke can play right back (and seemingly everywhere).
- The same is true of Voloder. He has played left back in an actual game, but with three on the roster, it’s unlikely he’ll be asked to do that much in a real game, especially with so few CBs on this roster.
Photos and Videos
The team was nice enough to provide highlights, including five of the goals. Both goals from Willy Agada and Marinos Tzionis as well as the first SKC goal from Danny Flores.
Good morning again from GCU!#SportingKC will take on the Lopes in our second preseason scrim as we prepare for the upcoming season.— Sporting Kansas City (@SportingKC) January 28, 2023
Follow along with @SKCmatchday for updates! | @ChildrensMercy Preseason pic.twitter.com/a7pe4rN8V0
And while this isn’t from the game, it’s at least a moving picture.