Sporting Kansas City earned a 3-0 victory over Brazil's Fluminense FC U-23 side on Saturday in the 2014 Disney Pro Soccer Classic at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Kissimmee, Fla. Played in a steady downpour of rain, Paulo Nagamura scored twice against his compatriots and Jimmy Medranda added a goal of his own as homegrown goalkeeper Jon Kempin recorded the shutout in net for Sporting Kansas City.
The two sides exchanged scoring chances within the game's opening minutes. Fluminense started the match on the front foot, charging toward goal within the first 30 seconds only to see Seth Sinovic's sliding block thwart the attack. On the opposite end, C.J. Sapong forced a turnover and Medranda capitalized with a dipping shot from distance that was pushed away for a corner.
Kempin, making his 2014 preseason debut, was quick off his line in the 13th minute to intervene as Marlon had gotten behind the Sporting KC defense. Three minutes later, a counter attack had Fluminense with an advantage in numbers on the attack but Matt Besler made the timely interception on the final pass.
Sporting KC nearly opened the scoring in the 33rd minute on a superb piece of playmaking skill from Graham Zusi. Taking the ball out of the air with his first touch and slipping Sapong through on goal with a well-weighted pass on the second touch, Sporting was in prime position to breakthrough until Sapong was tackled from behind in a desperate display of defense.
The goals would come soon enough, beginning in the 40th minute. Medranda won a tackle along the touchline and immediately found Bieler in the in the middle of the park. The Designated Player drew in the defense and picked out Nagamura, who struck a right-footed shot from distance that skipped underneath Klever on the wet surface.
Forward Rodrigo Cabeça provided a spark for Fluminense to start the second half, sending a shot off target from the top of the box in the 52nd minute and forcing a solid save by Kempin two minutes later.
Sporting KC would then put the game out of reach with two goals in a three-minute span. In the 55th minute, Medranda and Bieler combined for the most unconventional of give-and-go sequences for the game's second goal. The Colombian, re-acquired from Deportivo Pereira earlier this month, played a pass to Bieler at the backpost and his header fell at the feet of a Fluminense player. Unfortunately for the visitors from Rio de Janeiro, he did not connect on the clearance and Medranda made them pay with a well-taken first-time finish laced off his left foot.
Nagamura then struck for his second of the game to put Sporting KC ahead 3-0 in the 58th minute. Bieler brought down an entry ball from Chance Myers with a trailing pass for Nagamura, who hammered his shot from the penalty spot off the hands of Klever and across the goalline.
Bieler collected all three assists on Saturday and now has five in the preseason, while Nagamura became the fifth different player for Sporting KC with multiple goals to date in 2014 along with Jacob Peterson, Adnan Gabeljic, Sal Zizzo and Sapong.
The scoreline could have grown in the game's final 20 minutes if not for two saves by Klever, first to deny Bieler in 1-v-1 situation in the 70th minute and then a reaction stop on Peterson with five minutes to play.
With the win, Sporting KC sits atop Group B heading into the group stage finale against the Montreal Impact at 7 p.m. CT on Wednesday and improve to 6-0-1 in the pre-season. Sporting Kansas City will kick off the 2014 MLS season two weeks from Saturday at the Seattle Sounders FC on March 8.
Earlier on Saturday, Sporting KC defeated the Florida Gulf Coast University men's soccer team 3-1 on the practice fields at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. The MLS Cup champions forced goalkeeper Nathan Ingham into action early, as 2014 MLS SuperDraft pick Gabeljic saw his seventh-minute header parried away with a diving stop. Gabeljic quickly rebounded with two goals in the next ten minutes.
The former St. Louis University Billiken hammered home a Benny Feilhaber long ball in the 15th minute and then sent a shot past Ingham five minutes later. Florida Gulf Coast University pulled one back in the second half from a penalty kick but Peterson's last-minute goal sealed the match.
2014 Disney Pro Soccer Classic
ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex
Weather: 76 degrees and rainy
|Sporting Kansas City||1||2||3|
|Fluminense FC U-23||0||0||0|
Sporting Kansas City: Jon Kempin; Chance Myers (Danny Earls 76), Ike Opara (Aurelien Collin 76), Matt Besler (Peter Schmetz 76), Seth Sinovic (Trialist 2 76); Lawrence Olum (Mikey Lopez 76), Paulo Nagamura (Christian Duke 76), Jimmy Medranda (Alex Martinez 76); C.J. Sapong (Sal Zizzo 42, Jacob Peterson 68), Claudio Bieler, Graham Zusi (Adnan Gabeljic 76)
Fluminense FC U-23: Klever; Igor Julião, Ygor Nogueira (Guilherme Noé), Marlon e Diego; Fabio Braga, Luiz Fernando (João Vitor), Eduardo, Olivera (Matheus Carvalho) (Jayme) e Robert; Pablo Dyego (Rodrigo Cabeça)
SKC -- Jimmy Medranda (caution; reckless tackle) 18
SKC -- Paulo Nagamura (Claudio Bieler, Jimmy Medranda) 40
SKC -- Jimmy Medranda (Claudio Bieler) 55
SKC -- Paulo Nagamura (Claudio BIeler, Chance Myers) 58