Sporting KC

Sporting KC opens preseason schedule with victory

Updated: 2014-01-29T00:07:58Z

By SAM McDOWELL

The Kansas City Star

Sporting Kansas City manager Peter Vermes says he’s not tracking victories in the preseason but instead focusing on his team’s ability to quickly return to its tireless style of play.

It’s nice to have both.

Sporting KC opened its preseason schedule Tuesday with a 1-0 win against FC Tucson of the Premier Development League. Forward C.J. Sapong scored the game’s lone goal in the 20th minute at Kino Sports Complex in Tucson, Ariz.

“We played well. We dominated the game, but that’s not really what I’m looking for,” Vermes said by phone. “…These games all through the preseasons are really about two things — one is building the minutes of the guys and start to get them in a pace where they can play 90 minutes at a certain pace, and the other is getting a chance to evaluate a lot of new players.

“I thought today was a really good opportunity to do both of those things.”

Sporting KC opened the game with most of its regulars in the starting lineup, with the exception of Graham Zusi, Benny Feilhaber and Matt Besler, who are away on United States national team duties.

With the absence of two midfielders, Vermes slid Claudio Bieler into a position he called an “underneath forward.” Bieler played behind forwards Dom Dwyer, C.J. Sapong and newcomer Sal Zizzo.

Bieler assisted on Sapong’s goal.

“It’s a place he plays very well in,” Vermes said. “It won’t preclude him from playing one of the three guys up top. ... He’s very fit at the moment (compared) to last year at this time, so that’s a big help to us.”

To reach Sam McDowell, call 816-234-4869 or send email to smcdowell@kcstar.com. Follow him at twitter.com/SamMcDowell11.

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