Sporting Kansas City defeated the Colorado Rapids 4-1 on Wednesday in the club’s penultimate match of the 2016 preseason, presented by Children’s Mercy. Paulo Nagamura converted a pair of first-half penalty kicks, Dom Dwyer scored a penalty of his own in the 68th minute and Seth Sinovic added a fourth from the run of play as Sporting Kansas City remained unbeaten through five preseason games.
The victory at Kino North Stadium in Tucson, Arizona, propels Sporting KC into its final Desert Diamond Cup match against rivals Houston Dynamo at 5:30 pm. CT on Saturday.
Manager Peter Vermes’ starting lineup featured five backline changes from Saturday’s 1-1 draw with the New England Revolution as goalkeeper Alec Kann stood behind Saad Abdul-Salaam, Ike Opara, Kevin Ellis and Amadou Dia. Lawrence Olum anchored the midfield with Nagamura and Soni Mustivar in advanced roles, while forwards Jacob Peterson and Connor Hallisey were joined in attack by trialist Kenny Cooper, a 10-year MLS veteran with 75 career goals.
The first chance of the match fell to the Rapids in the eighth minute. Newly signed Designated Player Shkelzen Gashi created space and fired low from 20 yards, forcing Kann to dive to his right and push the ball wide. It would be the first of three impressive first-half stops from Sporting KC’s 2015 Re-Entry Draft selection, who denied Kevin Doyle and Dominique Badji with reflex saves in the final seven minutes of the first half.
Sporting Kansas City seized the lead in the 16th minute following an incisive attack down the right side. Hallisey played a through ball to Adbul-Salaam, who went down under Badji’s challenge on the edge of the penalty area. Nagamura promptly stepped to the spot and sent Zac MacMath the wrong way, slotting his penalty kick low into the corner.
Just three minutes later, Sporting Kansas City was awarded another penalty kick. This time it was the left back Dia who accelerated into the box from the left wing, drawing a foul on Micheal Azira to give Nagamura an opportunity to double the advantage. The Brazilian midfielder did just that, again going low to MacMath’s right for his second goal of the evening.
Vermes made one change at halftime as 2015 MLS MVP finalist Benny Feilhaber replaced Cooper. Fifteen minutes later, Sporting Kansas City brought 10 more players into the game as Dwyer made his 2016 Desert Diamond Cup debut, joining Brad Davis and Graham Zusi up top.
Dwyer would make his mark in the 68th minute after Marc Burch’s mistimed sliding challenge brought Chance Myers to the turf. The third penalty kick drawn by a Sporting KC outside back resulted in a third goal as Dwyer hammered his penalty into the top right corner of the net.
The productive night from Sporting Kansas City’s fullbacks wasn’t finished. In the 72nd minute, Myers delivered a looping cross from the right flank to the far left post. Sinovic was rewarded for his timely run into the box as his one-time shot gave Sporting KC a 4-0 cushion.
Colorado salvaged a consolation goal eight minutes from full time. Unsigned 2016 MLS SuperDraft pick Dennis Castillo slid a low cross into the path of newly acquired forward Zach Pfeiffer, who beat Tim Melia from 15 yards.
2016 MLS Preseason
Desert Diamond Cup
Kino Sports Complex - North Stadium | Tucson, Arizona
Weather: 61 degrees and clear
|Sporting Kansas City||2||2||4|
Sporting Kansas City: Alec Kann (Tim Melia 60); Saad Abdul-Salaam (Chance Myers 60), Ike Opara (Daniel Salloi 40, Nuno Andre Coelho 60), Kevin Ellis (Matt Besler 60), Amadou Dia (Seth Sinovic 60); Lawrence Olum (Jordi Quintilla 60), Soni Mustivar (Roger Espinoza 60), Paulo Nagamura (Brad Davis 60); Jacob Peterson (Graham Zusi 60), Kenny Cooper** (Benny Feilhaber 46), Connor Hallisey (Dom Dwyer 60).
Colorado Rapids: Zac MacMath (Chris Froschauer* 46); Eric Miller (Dennis Castillo* 46), Bobby Burling (Stephen Keel** 46), Axel Sjoberg (A.J. Cochran** 46), Mekeil Williams (Marc Burch 46); Jared Watts (Sam Cronin 46), Micheal Azira (Brad Spencer** 46), Dillon Powers (Zach Pfeffer 46); Dominique Badji (Luis Solignac 46), Shkelzen Gashi (Dillon Serna 46), Kevin Doyle (Conor Doyle 46).
*Unsigned 2016 MLS SuperDraft selection
SKC — Paulo Nagamura (penalty kick) 16
SKC — Paulo Nagamura (penalty kick) 19
SKC — Dom Dwyer (penalty kick) 68
SKC — Seth Sinovic (Chance Myers) 72
COL — Zach Pfeffer (Dennis Castillo) 82