The upshot of a victory absent, Sporting Kansas City coach Peter Vermes enlisted a lineup Wednesday with a different purpose.
With Sporting KC already mathematically eliminated from the CONCACAF Champions League group stage, Vermes opted for a chance to measure deeper into his roster.
Some unfamiliar faces seized the opportunity.
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Cameron Porter, Nansel Selbol and Connor Hallisey scored their first career Sporting KC goals as part of a 3-1 victory Wednesday in CCL group play against Trinidad and Tobago-based Central FC.
“It’s a great chance to get the confidence underneath you,” Porter said. “Heading into the playoffs, you just want to get guys some confidence who haven’t gotten a lot of minutes. Three people who haven’t scored for Sporting score tonight. Couldn’t ask for anything better.”
It produced Sporting Kansas City’s first victory in its fourth and final CCL group play match. But it entered the night without a chance to advance in the competition. Vancouver had already clinched the group.
Because of the latter, Sporting KC did not play any of its 11 starters from last weekend’s draw in Real Salt Lake. Instead, it saved those legs for the MLS regular season finale Sunday against San Jose, a match that will determine its MLS postseason fate.
Sporting KC trailed 1-0 after an uninspired opening half in front of an announced attendance of 11,367 fans, but Porter evened the score in the 49th minute, and Selbol pushed Sporting KC in front six minutes later. Selbol hit the post twice more in the second half.
Hallisey scored from the penalty dot in second-half stoppage time — his first goal in 40 appearances across all competitions with Sporting KC.
Selbol was called up from the Swope Park Rangers on Tuesday. Along with Benji Joya, Tomas Granitto and Alex Molano, he made his Sporting KC debut.
Sporting KC acquired Porter in a trade from Montreal in July, when the club shipped defender Amadou Dia north. After a season-ending injury to top backup striker Diego Rubio last week, Vermes has said Porter could be in line to see additional playing time.
“He has a chance to step up,” Vermes said. “Tonight was good for him. I thought he showed a lot of different things that were important for us moving forward because his movement off the ball was very good. And that’s something we need out of that position.”