Neven Markovic stepped up and cleaned the ball off Montpellier Herault SC midfielder Younes Belhanda’s foot at the edge of the penalty box in the 17th minute Tuesday during an international friendly at Livestrong Sporting Park.
It was a picturesque and precise dispossession against Belhanda, who scored 12 goals and added seven assists last season in helping Montpellier Herault win the French Ligue 1 title.
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Appropriately, Sporting Kansas City fans, who got to see Markovic — a Serbian defender and the club’s most recently signed field player — for the first time, roared in approval.
“First of all, I want to thank the fans in KC, who supported me the whole match and I am very grateful for that,” Markovic said.
Making his debut for Sporting KC, Markovic spent the first half at left back and moved to left centerback in the second half during the 3-0 loss to Montpellier Herault.
He sparkled in the first half, but struggled a bit more with the game opening up after halftime thanks to a 39th-minute goal for the French champions.
“Even though it was a friendly match, I am not satisfied,” Markovic said. “I gave my best and fought the whole match, but it was not good enough for my team. We shouldn’t lose 3-0. That is too much. I am a little sad and a little disappointed.”
But other assessments of Markovic’s inaugural performance were far less harsh.
“Overall, when you assess his performance as an individual, he was very good,” said assistant coach Kerry Zavagnin, who coached Sporting KC against Montpellier Herault in coach Peter Vermes’ absence.
Sporting KC saw flashes of the strong, tactically sound and hard-working defender they signed to add depth along the back line.
“I’ve played with him since he got here and I’m impressed with him,” goalkeeper Eric Kronberg said. “He’s a very physical player and pretty good on the ball. He was a fantastic compliment for us on the left side tonight … and he’s going to be a good addition for our team.”
Sporting KC signs Angevine
Scott Angevine became the seventh Kansas City-area product on the Sporting KC roster when he was signed Thursday as the club’s fourth goalkeeper.
Angevine, 23, is a Kansas City, Kan., native and Blue Valley Northwest graduate. He also played for a season in the club’s Juniors Academy.
“I’m really excited to be a part of this organization,” he said in a release from the club. “It’s a great opportunity to get my professional career started. There is nothing better than getting signed by your hometown team. I grew up going to games so today is a dream come true.”
After spending a year at Northern Illinois, Angevine wrapped up his college career at Coastal Carolina with Cyprian Hedrick, who was Sporting’s second-round pick in the 2012 MLS SuperDraft.
Angevine has trained with Sporting for the last year. He joins starting defenders Matt Besler and Seth Sinovic, reserves Michael Thomas and Kyle Miller, and Homegrown Players Jon Kempin and Kevin Ellis as Kansas City-area players on the club’s roster.