Preview: Sporting face FC Tucson Trialists on Wednesday to round out first leg of preseason

Sporting Kansas City vs. FC Tucson Trialists
2019 Preseason presented by Children's Mercy
Wednesday, Jan. 30 | Noon CT
Phoenix Rising Soccer Complex | Scottsdale, Arizona
Live Updates | @SKCmatchday on Twitter

After more than two weeks of training in the Arizona sunshine, Sporting Kansas City will conclude the first phase of their 2019 preseason, presented by Children’s Mercy, on Wednesday with a friendly against a team of FC Tucson Trialists.

Kickoff is set for noon CT as Sporting look to deliver another convincing preseason performance, having soundly defeated Sporting Arizona FC and a squad of Rising FC trialists over the last fortnight. The @SKCMatchday Twitter account will provide live updates of the scrimmage at Phoenix Rising FC Soccer Complex in Tempe.

Manager Peter Vermes, who distributed playing time evenly in Sporting’s 4-0 win over Sporting Arizona and 7-0 hammering of Phoenix, is likely to deploy the entirety of his robust preseason squad on Wednesday. The match will be played in three 60-minute periods, giving Vermes 180 minutes to allocate as his team continues its pursuit of full fitness ahead of an all-important Concacaf Champions League showdown against Deportivo Toluca FC on Feb. 21 at Children’s Mercy Park.

Sporting’s early preparations have seen numerous Academy products make positive impacts on the field. Ten Academy players past and present appeared in each of the team’s first two scrimmages, combining for five goals and two assists. Among the goal scorers have been 2018 club Golden Boot winner Daniel Salloi, 16-year-old Homegrown forward Tyler Freeman, Swope Park Rangers midfielder Felipe Hernandez and 19-year-old SPR striker Wilson Harris. Freeman and fellow 16-year-old Gianluca Busio have also added assists.

Wednesday will mark the first time Sporting square off without former MLS Defender of the Year Ike Opara on the team. The 29-year-old center back was traded to Minnesota United FC on Monday in exchange for up to $1 million in Targeted Allocation Money. Opara’s departure further opens the door for the likes of Andreu Fontas and Botond Barath to partner captain Matt Besler in central defense.

Guided by head coach Darren Sawatzsky, FC Tucson will play in the newly rebranded USL League One beginning in 2019. Founded in 2010, the club has competed in the Premier Development League since 2012 and won four straight divisional championships from 2014-2017.

Following their tune-up against FC Tucson, Sporting will return to Kansas City on Thursday for a recuperation period between preseason training stints. Players and coaches will attend the 2019 Season Kickoff and Kit Launch Party next Monday, Feb. 4, at the Nelson-Atkins Museum, where all fans are welcome to join for a curtain-raising celebration in one of the city’s most iconic venues. Vermes’ side will then venture back to Scottsdale for training from Feb. 6-19 prior to battling Toluca in the Concacaf Champions League Round of 16.

Tickets for the Champions League first leg between Sporting KC and Toluca at Children’s Mercy Park are now available at

Sporting KC 2019 Preseason Schedule & Results

Friday, Jan. 18 Sporting Arizona FC W 4-0 Phoenix Rising Soccer Complex (Scottsdale)
Wednesday, Jan. 23 Phoenix Rising FC Trialists W 7-0 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 (as of Jan. 29)

1 Adrian Zendejas Goalkeeper 23
2 Botond Barath Defender 26
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 32
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
  Sean Karani ^ Midfielder 18
  Tucker Lepley ^ Midfielder 17
  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