Graham Zusi having a strike - 2019 Preseason
Patrik Bergabo

Preview: Sporting KC to face Sporting Arizona FC in first preseason tune-up on Friday

Sporting Kansas City vs. Sporting Arizona FC
2019 Preseason presented by Children's Mercy
Friday, Jan. 18 | 11:30 a.m. CT
Phoenix Rising Soccer Complex | Scottsdale, Arizona
Live Updates: @SKCMatchday on Twitter

It may have been a short offseason, but Sporting Kansas City players, coaches and fans won’t be complaining about that any time soon.

After coming within one victory of a Western Conference Championship and an MLS Cup appearance in late 2018, Sporting will take the field at Phoenix Rising Soccer Complex on Friday for their first tune-up of the 2019 preseason, presented by Children's Mercy. The curtain-raising scrimmage comes against Sporting Arizona FC, with kickoff slated for 11:30 a.m. CT and live updates available via @SKCMatchday on Twitter.

Friday's contest will likely see Manager Peter Vermes split his 39-man preseason squad into three teams, with each unit logging 30 minutes of playing time. Sporting's roster for the game includes all 26 players under contract as well as four members of the Swope Park Rangers, five Sporting KC Academy players, trialist Daniel Johnson — who has spent the last two seasons with the Chicago Fire — and unsigned MLS SuperDraft selections Kamar Marriott, Franky Martinez and Camden Riley.

Four fresh faces have joined Sporting this offseason, all of whom could feature on Friday. Hungarian international Botond Barath and MLS veteran Rodney Wallace have arrived to bolster the backline, U.S. international Kelyn Rowe has deepened the midfield corps, and forward Erik Hurtado will look to make an impact up top.

The Kansas City Star's Sam McDowell reported Wednesday that striker Krisztian Nemeth, who had offseason surgery to repair a nerve issue in his abdomen, will sit out Friday's scrimmage but should return to full training next week. Another absentee will be the versatile Jimmy Medranda, who continues to rehab from a season-ending knee injury he suffered last summer.

Founded in 1989, Sporting Arizona FC are a member of the Southwest Conference of the United Premier Soccer League. Lance Thompson became the club's new head coach this month and inherits a side that finished first in the Southwest Conference last year and advanced to the 2018 UPSL National Championship before falling 3-2 to Milwaukee Bavarian SC.

Sporting enter 2019 riding an eight-year playoff streak, having set club records during the 2018 regular season for goals (65), assists (69) and goal difference (plus-25). A palpable buzz surrounds the preseason camp as Vermes' men prepare for the first leg of their Concacaf Champions League Round of 16 matchup against Deportivo Toluca FC on Feb. 21 at Children's Mercy Park. The fixture will be the earliest competitive match in club history, underscoring the importance for all players to hit the ground running in Scottsdale.

Sporting KC 2019 Preseason Schedule

Friday, Jan. 18 Sporting Arizona FC 11:30am Phoenix Rising Soccer Complex (Scottsdale)
Wednesday, Jan. 23 Phoenix Rising FC Trialists 11:30am Phoenix Rising Soccer Complex (Scottsdale)
Wednesday, Jan. 30 FC Tucson Trialists 12pm Phoenix Rising Soccer Complex (Scottsdale)
Thursday, Feb. 7 Phoenix Rising FC
(two 75-minute matches)
7pm Phoenix Rising Soccer Complex (Scottsdale)
Wednesday, Feb. 13 Houston Dynamo * 5pm Kino Sports Complex (Tucson)
Wednesday, Feb. 13 FC Tucson * 5pm Kino Sports Complex (Tucson)

* Matches to be played concurrently

Sporting KC 2019 Preseason Roster

1 Adrian Zendejas Goalkeeper 23
2 Botond Barath Defender 26
3 Ike Opara Defender 29
4 Andreu Fontas Defender 29
5 Matt Besler Defender 31
6 Ilie Sanchez Midfielder 28
7 Johnny Russell Forward 28
8 Graham Zusi Defender 32
9 Krisztian Nemeth Forward 30
10 Yohan Croizet Midfielder 26
11 Kelyn Rowe Midfielder 27
12 Gerso Fernandes Forward 27
13 Gianluca Busio Midfielder 16
15 Seth Sinovic Defender 31
16 Graham Smith Defender 23
17 Roger Espinoza Midfielder 32
18 Eric Dick Goalkeeper 24
19 Erik Hurtado Forward 28
20 Daniel Salloi Forward 22
21 Felipe Gutierrez Midfielder 28
22 Rodney Wallace Defender 30
26 Jaylin Lindsey Defender 18
28 Tyler Freeman Forward 16
29 Tim Melia Goalkeeper 32
75 Wan Kuzain Wan Kamal Midfielder 20
94 Jimmy Medranda Defender 24
  Justin Bilyeu * Defender 24
  Felipe Hernandez * Midfielder 20
  Wilson Harris * Forward 19
  Will Little * Midfielder 20
  Mo Abualnadi ^ Defender 17
  Jake Davis ^ Midfielder 17
  Tucker Lepley ^ Midfielder 17
  Sean Karani ^ Midfielder 18
  Brooks Thompson ^ Goalkeeper 16
  Kamar Marriott ** Midfielder 22
  Franky Martinez ** Defender 23
  Camden Riley ** Midfielder 22
  Daniel Johnson ^^ Midfielder 23

* Swope Park Rangers
^ Sporting KC Academy
** Unsigned MLS SuperDraft pick
^^ Trialist