Sporting Kansas City raised the curtains on 2017 with a 1-0 defeat to the San Jose Earthquakes on Tuesday at Kino Sports Complex in Tucson, Arizona.
Midfielder Tommy Thompson scored the decisive goal in the 90th minute as 30 different players featured for Sporting Kansas City in its first match of the 2017 preseason, presented by Children’s Mercy.
Tuesday’s scrimmage was separated into three 30-minute periods, giving Sporting KC Manager Peter Vermes the opportunity to assess most of the players who have traveled to Tucson for the first phase of preseason training.
Sporting KC’s first chance fell to Ghanaian newcomer Latif Blessing, who received a pass from Seth Sinovic and blazed wide of goal in the 15th minute. The 20-year-old came close again seven minutes later, narrowly missing the target after Daniel Salloi provided a clever ball into the box.
Wholesale changes came at the 30-minute mark when 11 more Sporting KC players made their preseason debuts. Freshly minted Designated Player Gerso Fernandes got involved just before halftime, but his shot off a build-up involving Amer Didic and Christian Volesky was blocked.
San Jose fielded a new lineup after the break and survived a scare in the 64th minute when Benji Joya’s effort whistled above the crossbar. Mark Anthony Gonzalez tried his luck from long range shortly thereafter, but the strike skipped wide.
Newly acquired San Jose forward Olmes Garcia pulled the trigger three times in the final quarter of the match, but the only one to test goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra was comfortably saved.
Sporting KC Academy product Felipe Hernandez nearly gave his side the lead in the 85th minute with a 25-yard sledgehammer, but San Jose’s trialist goalkeeper dove at full extension to push the ball behind for a corner kick.
Thompson snatched San Jose a victory at the death, burying a one-time shot just seconds before the final whistle.
Sporting Kansas City will continue training in Arizona this week before facing the New England Revolution next Tuesday, Feb. 7 at Kino Sports Complex. Vermes’ men will then return to Kansas City for recuperation ahead of the second leg of preseason, set for Feb. 14-25 in Tucson.
Sporting KC Lineups
First XI (1-30th min): Tim Melia; Igor Juliao, Ike Opara, Kevin Ellis, Seth Sinovic; Soni Mustivar, Jimmy Medranda, Roger Espinoza; Cameron Iwasa, Latif Blessing, Daniel Salloi
Second XI (31-60th min.): Adrian Zendejas; Saad Abdul-Salaam, Erik Palmer-Brown, Amer Didic, Tyler Pasher; Felipe Hernandez, Lawrence Olum, Benji Joya; Nansel Selbol, Christian Volesky, Gerso Fernandes
Third XI (61-90th min.): Andrew Dykstra; Christian Duke, Oumar Ballo, Amer Didic, Colton Storm; Felipe Hernandez, James Musa, Benji Joya; Will Little, Cameron Porter, Mark Anthony Gonzalez