Sporting Kansas City concluded the team's first phase of pre-season in Tucson, Ariz. on Friday with a 3-1 victory over Indy Eleven at North Stadium at the Kino Sports Complex. Claudio Bieler opened the scoring for Sporting KC while C.J. Sapong and Sal Zizzo each added their second goals of the pre-season.
The expansion NASL side struck first, taking a 1-0 lead less than 20 seconds into the scrimmage. The shot caromed off the post before settling into the back of the net as Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper Eric Kronberg was beaten for the first time this pre-season.
Sporting Kansas City -- featuring Matt Besler, Oriol Rosell, Benny Feilhaber and Graham Zusi for the first time in 2014 -- responded with two goals in a two-minute span to take the lead. In the 9th minute, Seth Sinovic finished off a run down the left flank when he picked out Bieler inside the penalty area to set up the game-tying goal. The Designated Player was well-positioned and struck his shot first-time inside the far post.
Sapong, who also scored the game-winning goal against FC Tucson last week, then put Sporting KC ahead for good in the 11th minute. Following a turnover in midfield, Graham Zusi was the playmaker as he dribbled at the Indy Eleven defense before laying the ball off for Sapong to his left. The former MLS Rookie of the Year dribbled around Indy goalkeeper Kristian Nicht and snuck his shot in from a tight angle.
Much like Indy Eleven had done to open the match, Sporting Kansas City scored in the moments after kickoff in the 46th minute. Benny Feilhaber beat his mark to the endline inside the penalty area and found Zizzo for a simple finish to give the Sporting KC newcomer goals in each of his last two games.
Goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum, acquired from Columbus in the offseason, twice saw Indy Eleven shots hit the post but kept a clean sheet for the final 45 minutes to improve Sporting KC to 2-0-1 in the pre-season. Manager Peter Vermes used 24 players throughout the 105-minute match, including MLS SuperDraft selections Adnan Gabeljic, Peter Schmetz and Alex Martinez.
Sporting KC returns to Kansas City on Saturday before traveling to Florida from Feb. 14 - March 2 for the team's participation in the 2014 Disney Pro Soccer Classic at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. Visit SportingKC.com/preseason for ticket and travel information.
2014 MLS Preseason
Kino Sports Complex | Tucson, Ariz.
Weather: 60 degrees and partly cloudy
IND -- Trialist (caution; reckless foul) 56
KC - Peter Schmetz (caution; reckless foul) 75
IND - Trialist (Trialist) 1
SKC - Claudio Bieler (Seth Sinovic) 9
SKC -- C.J. Sapong (Graham Zusi) 11
SKC -- Sal Zizzo (Benny Feilhaber) 46
Sporting Kansas City: Eric Kronberg (Andy Gruenebaum 60); Seth Sinovic (Trialist 1 60), Matt Besler (Peter Schmetz 60), Aurelien Collin (Mechack Jerome 60), Chance Myers (Kevin Ellis 60); Paulo Nagamura (Lawrence Olum 60), Oriol Rosell (Christian Duke 60), Benny Feilhaber (Soony Saad 60, Alex Martinez 64); C.J. Sapong (Jacob Peterson 60), Claudio Bieler (Dom Dwyer 60), Graham Zusi (Sal Zizzo 46, Adnan Gabeljic 91)