Sporting Kansas City stayed perfect in Arizona with a 2-0 victory over the Colorado Rapids on Saturday at Phoenix Rising FC Soccer Complex in Tempe, Arizona. Khiry Shelton and Gerso tallied early goals as Manager Peter Vermes’ men recorded their third straight win to open the 2018 preseason, presented by Children’s Mercy.
Shelton, who joined the club this offseason in a trade from New York City FC, opened his preseason scoring account in the 12th minute after a high press from Sporting KC resulted in a Colorado turnover. The newly acquired forward picked up the loose ball and surged into the box before slotting coolly past U.S. international goalkeeper Tim Howard to give his side the lead.
Fellow newcomer Yohan Croizet — a Designated Player who signed for Sporting KC one day after Shelton last December — stamped his name on the first 45 minutes, delivering a sound midfield performance with two narrow misses from long range in the opening stages.
Sporting KC’s dominance was rewarded again in the 22nd minute when a delightful through ball from midfielder Ilie allowed Gerso to race onto the ball and pull the trigger with his patented left foot. His strike nestled into the far right corner of the net for his second goal in as many games, having also bagged the second in Wednesday’s 4-0 triumph over Sporting Arizona.
Shelton and Ilie both came close near the 40-minute mark, only to see their low drives zip marginally wide of Howard’s right-hand post.
Vermes made wholesale changes after 45 minutes, with Diego Rubio creating danger shortly after the restart. His clever cutback pass found an open Gianluca Busio, but the 15-year-old’s shot was blocked through traffic. Seth Sinovic was next to threaten on the hour mark, but his stinging left-footed blast was palmed away by Howard.
The Rapids nearly halved the deficit in the 82nd minute when Jack McBean sprinted in behind Sporting KC’s defense, but goalkeeper Adrian Zendejas sprawled left to make an excellent save.
Saturday’s contest ran 120 minutes long, with two 45-minute periods followed by a 30-minute period. The final stanza saw the preseason debut of goalkeeper Eric Dick, who was selected by Sporting KC in the first round of last month’s MLS SuperDraft. Dick produced a fine save in the 102nd minute, and the Rapids were left to rue their luck when Caleb Calvert’s rebound attempt caromed off the outside of the post.
With the first leg of preseason preparation in the books, Sporting KC will return to Kansas City for two training sessions at the new, world-class National Training Center. The club will then travel back to Arizona for training from Feb. 9-25, highlighted by four matches in the Mobile Mini Sun Cup preseason tournament.
Sporting Kansas City vs. Colorado Rapids
Feb. 3, 2018 – Phoenix Rising FC Soccer Complex (Tempe, Arizona)
Sporting Kansas City 2, Colorado Rapids 0
SKC – Khiry Shelton (unassisted) 12
SKC – Gerso (Ilie) 22
Sporting Kansas City Lineups
First Period (45 minutes): Tim Melia; Jaylin Lindsey, Ike Opara, Matt Besler, Cristian Lobato; Ilie, Yohan Croizet, Roger Espinoza; Gerso, Khiry Shelton, Daniel Salloi
Second Period (45 minutes): Adrian Zendejas; Colton Storm, Amer Didic, Graham Smith, Seth Sinovic; Kuzain, Felipe Hernandez, Gianluca Busio; Zach Wright, Diego Rubio, Kharlton Belmar
Third Period (30 minutes): Eric Dick; Trialist, Matt Lewis, James Musa, Wilfred Williams; Kuzain, Rodrigo Saravia, Sebastian Cruz; Zach Wright, Hadji Barry, Will Bagrou