Recap: Sporting KC stays unbeaten in preseason with 2-1 win over Phoenix Rising FC

Roger Espinoza vs Phoenix Rising FC - February 17, 2018

Sporting Kansas City claimed a 2-1 preseason win over USL side Phoenix Rising FC on Saturday in the Mobile Mini Sun Cup at the Phoenix Rising FC Soccer Complex in Tempe, Arizona. Ilie and Daniel Salloi each scored for Sporting KC as the team improved to 4-0-1 in the 2018 Preseason, presented by Children’s Mercy.

Phoenix opened the scoring in the game’s fifth minute, capitalizing on a counter attack to take an early lead in front of their home faithful. Nineteen-year-old midfielder Devin Vega played a through ball into the path of Kevaughn Frater, who made no mistake with a left-footed finish. The Jamaican forward, on loan from Harbour View FC, scored 12 goals in the USL last season and now has preseason goals in back-to-back weekends for his new club.

Sporting Kansas City would respond through the two-way play of Ilie in the 17th minute. The club’s Newcomer of the Year in 2017, Ilie won the ball with an astute interception before dribbling incisively into the area and netting the equalizer with a deflected shot past Dallas Jaye.

Salloi was active in the attack throughout the first half for Sporting KC, forcing a save from Jaye in the 15th minute and nearly connecting with a cross from fellow Sporting KC Academy product Jaylin Lindsey four minutes later. So it was no surprise when the Hungarian Salloi put the finishing touch on a beautiful build-up in the 30th minute for Sporting KC’s game-winning goal.

Roger Espinoza set up the scoring sequence with a sublime piece of skill to deftly bring down the initial entry pass inside the penalty area. The ball would be in the back of the net three touches later as Khiry Shelton set up Salloi who buried a first-time shot to emphatically cap off the crescendo with his second goal of the preseason campaign.

Phoenix picked their moments going forward and would threaten on multiple occasions, including Chris Cortez sizzling a shot narrowly wide from distance in the 29th minute. After nearly conceding a third goal on the cusp of halftime if not for Jaye’s superb save on Lindsey, the home side started the second half strong with Billy Forbes’ volley just off target in the 47th minute, Jason Johnson’s effort saved by Tim Melia in the 50th minute and Didier Drogba’s volley sailing inches high of the frame in the 59th minute.

Sporting Kansas City Manager Peter Vermes brought on newly acquired winger Johnny Russell at the start of the second half as the Scottish international made his preseason debut with 30 minutes of action before being replaced by Kharlton Belmar while the remaining group of starters would be replaced with a full squad change in the 61st minute.

Second-half substitutes Gerso, Rubio and Busio would each come close on opportunities to extend the Sporting KC lead, while Adrian Zendejas anchored a defensive unit that closed out the victory with a scoreless second half. Phoenix’s pursuit of a late equalizer was highlighted by two free kicks taken by Drogba, a club co-owner and World Cup veteran, in back-to-back minutes. The first was kept out by Zendejas and the second whistled just wide of the near post.

Sporting Kansas City, who opened the Mobile Mini Sun Cup with a 1-1 draw against the New York Red Bulls, will continue the club’s participation in the preseason tournament this Wednesday when the team takes the field against the New England Revolution at 12 p.m. CT at Kino Sports Complex in Tucson, Arizona. The match will be streamed live on and in-game updates will also be available via @SportingKC and @SKCmatchday on Twitter.

2018 Preseason presented by Children’s Mercy
Mobile Mini Sun Cup | Game 2 of 4

Phoenix Rising FC Soccer Complex | Scottsdale, Arizona
Weather: 71 degrees and partly cloudy

<p>Sporting Kansas City</p>
<p>Phoenix Rising FC</p>

Sporting Kansas City: Tim Melia (Adrian Zendejas 61); Jaylin Lindsey (Colton Storm 61), Ike Opara (Graham Smith 61), Amer Didic (Emiliano Amor 61), Christian Lobato (Seth Sinovic 61); Ilie Sanchez (Wan Kuzain Wan Kamal 61), Roger Espinoza (Felipe Hernandez 61), Felipe (Gianluca Busio 61); Yohan Croizet (Gerso Fernandes 61), Khiry Shelton (Diego Rubio 61), Daniel Salloi (Johnny Russell 46, Kharlton Belmar 75)

Phoenix Rising FC: Dallas Jaye (Zac Lubin 46); Victor Vasquez (Amadou Dia 46), Mike da Fonte, Doueugui Mala (Joe Farrell 46), Kody Wakasa (Devante Dubose 46); Luca Ricci (Collin Fernandez 46), Evan Waldrep (Kevon Lambert 46), Chris Cortez (Billy Forbes 46), Devin Vega (Gladson Awako 46); Solomon Asante (Jason Johnson 46), Kevaughn Frater (Didier Drogba 46)

Misconduct Summary:
SKC – Roger Espinoza (caution; tactical foul) 34’
PHX – Chris Cortez (caution; reckless foul) 38’
PHX – Kevon Lambert (caution; reckless foul) 71’

Scoring Summary:
PHX – Kevaughn Frater (Devin Vega) 5’
SKC – Ilie Sanchez (unassisted) 17’
SKC – Daniel Salloi (Khiry Shelton, Roger Espinoza) 30’

Attendance: 5,060