Sporting Kansas City faced their first competition of the 2011 pre-season on Saturday, playing to a 2-2 draw against the Columbus Crew at the Reach 11 Sports Complex in Phoenix, Arizona. Midfielder Jack Jewsbury and forward Kei Kamara each scored for Sporting in the team's first of nine scheduled pre-season matches in Arizona.
Jewsbury opened the scoring inside of ten minutes as Kansas City hit the ground running with a lineup featuring a mix of six returning players and five new faces. Columbus, preparing for the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals later this month, equalized before the first of three 30-minute periods expired, on a header from Brazilian trialist Alex Fraga. The center back came forward on a corner kick and powered his header past 2010 MLS All-Star Jimmy Nielsen, who got the start in goal for Kansas City.
Sporting rotated in 11 new guys to start the second session, with Designated Player Omar Bravo getting his first competitive minutes in a Kansas City uniform and MLS SuperDraft pick Konrad Warzycha entering against a Crew team coached by his father, Robert Warzcyha. Bravo paired up top with forwards Teal Bunbury and Kei Kamara, who combined for the only goal of the period. Kamara, a member of the Sierra Leone National Team and Kansas City's leading scorer last season, received a through ball from Bunbury and finished the scoring opportunity to regain the lead for KC. Goalkeeper Eric Kronberg replaced Nielsen in net and kept a clean sheet in his thirty minutes of action.
The final thirty minutes allowed Sporting Kansas City Manager Peter Vermes to introduce some of the team's young players alongside veteran captain Davy Arnaud. Juniors product Kevin Ellis started on a backline that also consisted of 2011 draft picks J.T. Murray and Mike Jones. On the attacking side of the ball, first round pick C.J. Sapong played centrally with Sam Scales and Franklin Salas out wide. The Crew notched the game's final goal as referee Alex Prus awarded a penalty kick to Columbus and Robbie Rogers stepped up to the spot to put his shot past goalkeeper Jon Kempin, Kansas City's first Homegrown Player, with approximately five minutes remaining.
Kansas City will next play an inter-squad match on Wednesday, February 9th before again meeting MLS competition on Saturday against the Colorado Rapids. Click here for Sporting's currently scheduled 2011 pre-season matches (subject to change, all times Mountain Standard Time).
KC -- Jack Jewsbury -- 1st session
CLB -- Alex Fraga -- 1st session
KC -- Kei Kamara (Teal Bunbury) -- 2nd session
CLB -- Robbie Rogers (penalty kick) -- 3rd session
Kansas City Lineups:
First Session: Jimmy Nielsen, Chance Myers, Trialist 1, Trialist 2, Roger Espinoza, Sheldon Bateau, Jack Jewsbury, Craig Rocastle, Trialist 3, Adda Djeziri, Birhahim Diop
Second Session: Eric Kronberg, Michael Harrington, Daneil Cyrus, Matt Besler, Trialist 4, Konrad Warzycha, Graham Zusi, Korede Aiyegbusi, Kei Kamara, Omar Bravo, Teal Bunbury
Third Session: Jon Kempin, Kevin Ellis, Trialist 5, Mike Jones, J.T. Murray, Stephane Auvray, Davy Arnaud, Trialist 6, Sam Scales, Franklin Salas, C.J. Sapong