Sporting Kansas City earned an 8-0 victory over Grand Canyon University at GCU Stadium in Phoenix on Saturday as part of the club's 2023 preseason presented by Children's Mercy. Willy Agada and Marinos Tzionis each bagged a brace and the club's three goalkeepers played 30 minutes each in the shutout.
Taking on a GCU side coached by former KC midfielder Mike Kraus (2007-2010), Sporting opened the scoring in the 13th minute as the team's 2022 Newcomers of the Year combined to give SKC the 1-0 lead. Erik Thommy's cross from the left wing was headed home by Agada for his first of two goals in a span of 15 minutes. His second would come in the 28th minute - again on a header, this time with service from Daniel Salloi - to stretch Sporting's lead to 3-0 on the heels of an own goal in the 21st minute.
Manager Peter Vermes rotated in 10 new field players for the second half and the group made an instant impact as trialist Shaun Joash - who starred for the Lopes in 2021 and 2022 with 18 goals and nine assists en route to earning WAC Offensive Player of the Year honors - struck just 26 seconds into the period.
After forcing an own goal in the first half off an errant backpass, Sporting's high press once again paid dividends in the 51st minute as trialist Yeison Mejia dispossessed the GCU goalkeeper and set up rookie Danny Flores for the tap in before the defense could recover.
Sporting's strong performance was accentuated with two goals in less than 60 seconds as Marinos Tzionis buried a superb shot from beyond the box in the 70th minute, followed in short succession by Jake Davis finding the back of the net for the game's penultimate goal. Tzionis closed out the scoring in the 80th minute with a first-time finish at the far post, adding his name to the scoresheet for a second time on a pinpoint pass from Felipe Hernandez.
Sporting KC will continue the team's preseason schedule next Saturday, February 4 with a matchup against two-time USL Championship winners Louisville City FC. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. CT at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix with live updates available via @SKCMatchday on Twitter.
Sporting Kansas City vs. Grand Canyon University
January 28, 2023 – Grand Canyon University (Phoenix, Ariz.)
Sporting Kansas City 8, Grand Canyon University 0
SKC - Willy Agada (Erik Thommy) 13'
SKC - Own Goal 21'
SKC - Willy Agada (Daniel Salloi) 28'
SKC - Shaun Joash (Jake Davis) 46'
SKC - Danny Flores (Yeison Mejia) 51'
SKC - Marinos Tzionis (unassisted) 70'
SKC - Jake Davis (Danny Flores) 70'
SKC - Marinos Tzionis (Felipe Hernandez) 80'
Sporting Kansas City Lineups
First Half: Tim Melia (Kendall McIntosh 30’); Kayden Pierre, Kortne Ford, Andreu Fontas, Ben Sweat; Roger Espinoza, Remi Walter, Erik Thommy; Johnny Russell, Willy Agada, Daniel Salloi
Second Half: Kendall McIntosh (John Pulskamp (60’); Cam Duke, Chris Rindov, Nassim Mekideche, Robert Voloder; Felipe Hernandez, Danny Flores, Jake Davis; Yeison Mejia, Shaun Joash, Marinos Tzionis