Preview: Sporting wraps up preseason Wednesday with split-squad matches vs. Houston

Sporting Kansas City vs. Houston Dynamo
2019 Preseason presented by Children's Mercy
Wednesday, Feb. 13 | 5 p.m. CT | Two split-squad matches
Kino Sports Complex | Tucson, Arizona
Live Stream: Facebook, YouTubeSportingKC.com
Twitter Updates: @SportingKC and @SKCmatchday

Sporting Kansas City will battle the Houston Dynamo on Wednesday in a pair of 90-minute split-squad matches to round out the club's 2019 preseason, presented by Children's Mercy. Both contests will kick off concurrently at 5 p.m. CT at Kino Sports Complex in Tucson, Arizona, as the Western Conference rivals make their final preparations before launching into the 2019 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League and the 2019 MLS regular season.

One of Wednesday's two matches will stream live on SportingKC.com as well as the club's Facebook and YouTube pages, while the @SportingKC and @SKCmatchday Twitter accounts will provide additional in-game updates.

Sporting and Houston, bitter foes on an annual basis, enter Wednesday with unbeaten preseason records. Manager Peter Vermes' side has won each of its four tune-ups, including a 3-2 decision against Phoenix Rising FC last Thursday that saw Johnny Russell, Graham Zusi and Tyler Freeman find the back of the net. Houston, meanwhile, have two wins each over Rio Grande Valley FC and Seattle Sounders FC to go with last Wednesday's scoreless stalemate with Minnesota United FC.

Given the friendly nature of Wednesday's affair, winning is unlikely to be the paramount objective for either club. However, Sporting and Houston will both seize the opportunity to get most of their players a full 90 minutes ahead of next week's Concacaf Champions League action. Sporting will host Mexican outfit Deportivo Toluca FC on Feb. 21, while Houston will travel to Guatemala two days earlier to face Guastatoya. Both teams punched their Champions League ticket by winning the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, as Sporting's 2017 title was followed by Houston's last September.

Sporting have been dominant throughout their preseason campaign, outscoring opponents 23-2, but Wednesday represents their toughest competition yet. Each of the club's previous four fixtures came versus lower-tier opponents in Rising FC, Sporting Arizona FC and trialist-laden squads from Phoenix and FC Tucson.

The Dynamo, led by fourth-year head coach Wilmer Cabrera failed to reach the MLS Cup Playoffs last season but defeated Sporting in the Open Cup quarterfinals last July en route to the trophy. Houston were catapulted throughout the year by prolific forward Mauro Manotas and dynamic Honduran wingers Alberth Elis and Romell Quioto, who combined for 37 goals in all competitions.

Vermes has distributed playing time evenly over the course of the last month, ensuring that most of Sporting's first-team players have logged 30, 45, 60 and 75 minutes across the four matches. Wednesday represents the final step as several members of the squad will go the full 90.

Tickets for the Concacaf Champions League first leg between Sporting KC and Toluca at Children’s Mercy Park, set for 7 p.m. CT next Thursday, Feb. 21, are now available at SeatGeek.com. It marks the earliest competitive match in club history and the first time a Mexican foe has visited Kansas City since 2014, when Sporting edged Cruz Azul in the first leg of the 2013-14 Champions League quarterfinals.

Sporting KC 2019 Preseason Schedule & Results

DATE OPPONENT TIME (CT) / RESULT VENUE
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 W 9-0 Phoenix Rising Soccer Complex (Scottsdale)
Thursday, Feb. 7 Phoenix Rising FC
(two 75-minute matches)
W 3-2 Phoenix Rising Soccer Complex (Scottsdale)
Wednesday, Feb. 13 Houston Dynamo * 5pm Kino Sports Complex (Tucson)
Wednesday, Feb. 13 Houston Dynamo * 5pm Kino Sports Complex (Tucson)

* Matches to be played concurrently

Sporting KC 2019 Preseason Roster (as of Feb. 12)

NO. PLAYER POSITION AGE
1 Adrian Zendejas Goalkeeper 23
2 Botond Barath Defender 26
4 Andreu Fontas Defender 29
5 Matt Besler Defender 32
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
23 Tyler Freeman Forward 16
26 Jaylin Lindsey Defender 18
29 Tim Melia Goalkeeper 32
32 Mark Segbers Defender 22
55 Mo Abualnadi ^ Defender 18
72 Justin Bilyeu * Defender 25
75 Wan Kuzain Wan Kamal Midfielder 20
85 Felipe Hernandez * Midfielder 20
91 Ethan Vanacore-Decker * Forward 24
94 Jimmy Medranda Defender 24

* Swope Park Rangers
^ Sporting KC Academy

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