On the strength of midfielder Graham Zusi’s roller in the 76th minute, Sporting Kansas City took a 1-0 win Saturday against the Tampa Bay Rowdies in the final game of Disney Pro Soccer Classic group play in Kissimmee, Fla.
But the bigger headline from Sporting’s penultimate preseason game is the continuing integration of offseason acquisitions Claudio Bieler and Benny Feilhaber.
“You can see that those guys are getting more familiar with our style of play and more familiar with the other guys on the field,” coach Peter Vermes said.
Zusi, who was Sporting KC’s co-MVP with goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen last season, likes what he’s seen from Bieler, who is the third Designated Player in club history, and Feilhaber.
“In Claudio’s situation, to be thrust in an environment that you have absolutely zero familiarity with, it’s a tough situation,” Zusi said. “Personally, I’ve seen him getting better and better every day in training. He’s picking up our game plan and getting more comfortable with it.”
Meanwhile, Feilhaber seems to be rejuvenated as hoped.
“You saw some of that tonight with his ability to slip in the final pass and his comfort on the ball,” Zusi said. “He’s another guy who’s going to be a very big part of our success.”
| Tod Palmer, firstname.lastname@example.org