Sporting Kansas City concluded the team's 2014 preseason on Saturday with a 4-1 loss in the Disney Pro Soccer Classic championship at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Kissimmee, Fla. The MLS Cup champions preseason campaign ends with an 8-1-1 record, highlighted by five goals and six assists from Designated Player Claudio Bieler.
Columbus opened the scoring in the 20th minute from the penalty spot. Hector Jimenez was brought down inside the area by Josh Gardner, an early substitution at left back for Seth Sinovic, and Jairo Arrieta converted the ensuing penalty kick low and to his left.
The Crew came close to doubling their lead in the 35th minute as Tony Tchani worked his way past Aurelien Collin and Matt Besler. Tchani, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2010 MLS SuperDraft, sent his shot wide with Eric Kronberg coming off his line.
Sporting Kansas City then threatened twice in a five-minute span, first with Graham Zusi leading a counter attack through the middle of the park. The U.S. Men's National Team playmaker found Paulo Nagamura, who cut inside his mark and saw his shot curl inches beyond the far post.
On the opposite side, Zusi set up winger Sal Zizzo in the 42nd minute. His left-footed strike from the edge of the penalty area was on target but saved by goalkeeper Steve Clark to preserve the Crew's 1-0 lead entering the halftime break.
Sporting Kansas City continued to search for the game-tying goal to start the second half and were within inches in the 62nd minute. Gardner's shot from 25 yards out took a deflection off the head of Columbus defender Giancarlo Gonzalez and had Clark beaten but struck the crossbar. Minutes later, Oriol Rosell placed a pinpoint pass for Dom Dwyer inside the area but Clark came up with his best save of the night, using his face to turn away Dwyer's shot from close range.
Unable to capitalize on the chances and continuing to commit numbers forward, Sporting Kansas City conceded twice in short succession. Bernardo Anor headed home a cross from Jimenez in the 69th minute and five minutes later, Justin Meram added another with a touch around Kronberg before finishing into the empty net. Federico Higuain capped off the Crew's first place finish in the tournament with a clinical chip from 20 yards out in the 84th minute.
Sporting Kansas City would avoid the team's first shutout of the preseason courtesy of Bieler's moment of brilliance in the 87th minute. Celebrating his 30th birthday on Saturday, Bieler buried a first-time volley from 20 yards out on a deflected cross from the right flank.
Sporting KC returns to Kansas City on Sunday in preparation for the 2014 MLS season opener at 2 p.m. CT on Saturday in Seattle. The match will air live on NBC Sports from CenturyLink Field.
2014 Disney Pro Soccer Classic
ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex
Weather: 67 degrees and clear
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Sporting Kansas City: Eric Kronberg; Chance Myers (Mechack Jerome 66), Aurelien Collin (Ike Opara 66), Matt Besler (Erik Palmer-Brown 66), Seth Sinovic (Josh Gardner 7); Oriol Rosell (Lawrence Olum 66), Paulo Nagamura (Benny Feilhaber 46), Claudio Bieler; Sal Zizzo (Jacob Peterson 61), Dom Dwyer, Graham Zusi (Adnan Gabeljic 66)
CLB - Wil Trapp (caution, tactical foul) 18
CLB -- Michael Parkhurst (caution; tactical foul) 45
KC -- Graham Zusi (caution; dissent) 56
CLB: Jairo Arrieta (penalty kick) 20
CLB: Bernardo Anor (Hector Jimenez) 69
CLB: Justin Meram (Hector Jimenez) 74
CLB: Federico Higuain (Justin Meram) 84
SKC: Claudio Bieler (Mechack Jerome) 87