There was plenty of action in Sporting Kansas City’s friendly against Newcastle United on Wednesday, as evidenced by the 15-plus shots both teams combined for.
Problem was, there wasn’t much — or any, really — scoring. And for all those shots, only three were on goal, which led to — you guessed it — a 0-0 draw before a crowd of 16,131 at Livestrong Sporting Park.
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In the end, it was a decent showing for a Sporting team facing its second English Premier League team in as many years. But unlike last year’s marquee game — a 2-1 victory over powerhouse Manchester United at Arrowhead Stadium — the home team didn’t give the home crowd nearly as much to cheer about, though it came close numerous times.
Sporting almost scored in the 13th minute when Seth Sinovic played a cross to Kei Kamara, who had a chance for a goal but narrowly missed a header. Kamara followed that up a few minutes later with a rocket from inside the 18-yard box that missed the goal completely.
Newcastle almost cashed in on a scoring opportunity of its own in the 21st minute, when Sylvian Malveaux maneuvered through some defenders just outside the 6-yard box and got off a shot that rolled just wide of the goal by inches.
Bravo learned what the felt like first hand in the 26th minute, when he got on the end of a cross by Kamara and had his header sail wide of the goal.
And on and on it went until the 65th minute, when forward Soony Saad — who was acquired in a special lottery held by MLS a few weeks ago — let go a blast that Newcastle’s goalkeeper Tim Krul had to dive to save. Sporting almost scored again a minute later when Milos Stojchev’s headed a ball in the box that again missed the target.
The near-misses weren’t done yet, either. Tension rose from the home crowd in the 83rd minute, when Sporting goalkeeper Eric Kronberg bobbled a shot with a Newcastle’s Danny Simpson in hot pursuit. But Sporting cleared the ball, only to see Simpson get off a blast from point-bank range (off a cross) that Kronberg saved.
It took more than 80 minutes for Newcastle to get its first shot on target, but Sporting wasn’t quite done yet, as C.J. Sapong managed to get off a leaning shot in the 89th minute that Krul again had to dive to save in what turned out to be the last meaningful threat for either team.
SPORTING KANSAS CITY NOTEBOOK
Jéferson made his Sporting KC debut on Wednesday, and the 27-year old midfielder elicited his first “oooh” from the crowd in the 10th minute he got past a defender by playing the ball between the defender’s legs. Jéferson, who logged four shots in 45 minutes, did it again in the 15th minute when he attempted his first shot, which rolled wide of the goal.
“For me, it was a good start,” Jéferson said through a translator. “I just wish I could have scored one of those chances. I was mobile, I got the ball where I wanted to get it and I played my game which is to set up my teammates.”
Jéferson, who is on loan from Brazilian club Vasco da Gama, is the only the third designated player in Sporting history, along with Claudio Lopez (from 2008-2009) and Omar Bravo (who signed with the team last offseason).
Newcastle manager Alen Pardew said was impressed by Jéferson, who Vermes said could be play 65-70 minutes in their next game Saturday.
“Jéferson was a problem for us in the first half,” Pardew said. “He was a catalyst for most of the good things they did in the period.’
•Defender Aurelien Collin didn’t start Wednesday and wasn’t listed as a sub, either. Collin was listed as questionable on the pregame injury report with a left leg contusion that he suffered in Saturday’s 1-1 draw against Houston.
“Collin will be fine for this weekend,” Vermes said.
•Vermes opted to start Teal Bunbury at forward instead of C.J. Sapong, who later came on as a sub in the second half along with six of his teammates.
Soony Saad, a young forward the club acquired in a lottery a few weeks ago, came on in the 62nd minute, as did another young player, defender Kevin Ellis.
“I got a couple (shots) off,” said an enthusiastic Saad, who was still excited about his debut afterward. “I’m a shooter, that’s what I doI’m satisfied with what I did.”