Indy Eleven needed less than 20 seconds Friday to hand Sporting Kansas City its first deficit of the preseason. The North American Soccer League expansion team, however, didn’t produce many highlights from there.
By SAM McDOWELL
The Kansas City Star
Instead, Sporting KC responded with three unanswered goals, turning those into a 3-1 victory Friday at the Kino Sports Complex in Tucson, Ariz.
Sporting KC finished 2-0-1 on its first preseason trip.
“They scored a very, very good goal — they caught us sleeping,” Sporting KC coach Peter Vermes said. “Outside of that, we did well. We knocked the ball around, got everyone involved. We saw some good stuff.”
Four weeks from its March 8 season opener in Seattle, Sporting KC began the game with a group of its regular starters. That included the preseason debuts from Graham Zusi, Matt Besler and Benny Feilhaber, who had been away with the United States men’s national team.
Claudio Bieler put Sporting KC on the scoreboard in the ninth minute. C.J. Sapong scored two minutes later before Sal Zizzo opened the second half with his second goal of the preseason.
The two teams played a 45-minute first half and a 60-minute second half for a total of 105 minutes.
“I think the first one Claudio scored was a great goal,” Vermes said. “The whole setup — Seth was running down the side, he checked up and dropped the ball back, and (Bieler’s) first-touch finish was clinical.”
Sporting KC returns to Kansas City on Saturday for a pair of training sessions early next week. The players will depart Friday for four games at the Walt Disney Pro Soccer Classic in Kissimmee, Fla.
“I think we’ve been able to accelerate the group pretty quickly,” Vermes said. “I think we got the kind of minutes for players we wanted to get. I think we’ll leave with the majority of the group pretty healthy and get to Orlando with the full complement of our team.”
• Sporting KC released five players from its roster Friday — goalie Jacole Turner, midfielders Dante Marini and Pablo Punyed and forwards Don Anding and Reinaldo Brenes.