The 2015 edition of Sporting Kansas City training camp includes nearly a dozen new faces — a mixture of off-season trade acquisitions, signings, draft picks and preseason trialists.
The roster suggests an off-season makeover, and in many ways that’s been the case for a team that followed its 2013 MLS championship with a first-round exit from the postseason.
But as the first week of preseason camp nears a conclusion in Tucson, Ariz., Sporting Kansas City forward Dom Dwyer offered a different impression of his new teammates.
“This is by no means a rebuilding year,” he said adamantly, during a phone interview on Friday. “This is by no means a fresh new team. We have our base. We know (our strengths). We just have more personnel and more guys who can get the job done. Our object is winning, and I feel like we’re even closer to heading toward that this year.”
Those additions — most notably forward Krisztian Nemeth, goalkeeper Luis Marin, defender Jalil Anibaba and midfielders Roger Espinoza and Bernardo Anor — have provided a glaring attribute.
As a whole, SKC has significantly improved its baseline scoring in agility, speed and athleticism tests during the first week of the preseason. Sporting KC coach Peter Vermes said the group seems to offer a better level of fitness than last year’s group, too.
“There’s a tremendous amount of athleticism with a lot of the guys that have been added to the group,” said Vermes, whose team faces the Portland Timbers at 7 p.m. on Saturday at Kino North Stadium. “I’m pleasantly surprised by the overall group and the quality they’re bringing to training every day.”
Vermes said he hopes to get players about 30 minutes each during the game.
Sporting KC will play without Matt Besler, who continues his tour with the United States men’s national team, which dropped a 3-2 result on Wednesday in Chile and will play another friendly against Panama on Feb. 8 in Carson, Calif.
Vermes said Espinoza, Chance Myers, Ike Opara, Graham Zusi and draft pick Saad Abdul-Salaam will also sit out the preseason opener. He offered good prognosis for Myers and Opara, who are working their way back from season-ending injuries in 2014.
Opara has participated during training this week, though he sat out most of the competitive exercises, Vermes said. Myers has conducted some work on the side and should work his way back into the group over the next couple of weeks.