Preview: Sporting to face Phoenix Rising FC trialists Saturday in first friendly of 2020

Sporting Kansas City vs. Phoenix Rising FC Trialists
2020 Preseason presented by Children's Mercy
Saturday, Jan. 25 | Noon CT
Casino Arizona Field | Tempe, Arizona

When Sporting Kansas City takes the field on Saturday under the warm Arizona sunshine, 111 days will have elapsed since the club ended its 2019 season.

Needless to say, Manager Peter Vermes and his preseason squad of 35 players will be chomping at the bit for their first friendly of the 2020 preseason, presented by Children's Mercy. First up is a scrimmage against a team of Phoenix Rising FC trialists at Casino Arizona Field in Tempe, slated to kick off at noon CT. Fans can follow @SportingKC on Twitter for pregame and postgame updates surrounding the club's opening fixture of the decade.

With Sporting's record eight straight playoff appearances snapped after a 2019 campaign that fell short of expectations, Saturday represents the first step toward what players, coaches and fans hope will be an emphatic bounce-back. The 90-minute contest will likely see Vermes disperse playing time among several players at his disposal, with Sporting's 27 MLS players joined by eight youngsters who represent Sporting KC II, the Sporting KC Academy or the team's 2020 SuperDraft class.

New arrivals at all four positions have highlighted an intriguing offseason for Sporting. Forwards Alan Pulido and Khiry Shelton, defenders Roberto Puncec and Amadou Dia, midfielder Gadi Kinda and goalkeeper Richard Sanchez all in contention to get a run-out on Saturday, while a bevy of others will also want to begin brightly in 2020.

Phoenix Rising FC enjoyed a historically dominant 2019 USL Championship season, setting an all-time league high for total points and rattling off an American professional soccer record 20 straight regular season wins. Led by reigning USL Championship Coach of the Year Rick Schantz, the hosts will deploy a squad of trialists on Saturday before their first-team roster meets Sporting in the Visit Tucson Sun Cup on Feb. 19.

Saturday marks the first of two friendlies during the first leg of Sporting's preseason. Vermes' side will face fellow MLS club FC Cincinnati on Feb. 1 prior to traveling back to Kansas City.

After spending a week back home, Sporting will return to Arizona for the second leg from Feb. 8-23, highlighted by a Feb. 12 friendly versus Columbus Crew SC and three games in the Visit Tucson Sun Cup. Tickets for all Visit Tucson Sun Cup fixtures are on sale now at

Sporting KC 2020 Preseason Schedule

Date Opponent Time (CT) Location
Saturday, Jan. 25 Phoenix Rising FC Trialists Noon Casino Arizona Field;
Tempe, Ariz.
Saturday, Feb. 1 FC Cincinnati Noon Grande Sports World;
Casa Grande, Ariz.
Wednesday, Feb. 12 Columbus Crew SC 12:30pm Grande Sports World;
Casa Grande, Ariz.
Saturday, Feb. 15 Real Salt Lake
(Visit Tucson Sun Cup)
5pm Kino North Stadium;
Tucson, Ariz.
Wednesday, Feb. 19 Phoenix Rising FC
(Visit Tucson Sun Cup)
8pm Casino Arizona Field;
Tempe, Ariz.
Saturday, Feb. 22 New York Red Bulls
(Visit Tucson Sun Cup)
3pm Kino North Stadium;
Tucson, Ariz.

Sporting KC 2020 Preseason Roster

# Player Position Age
1 Richard Sanchez Goalkeeper 25
2 Botond Barath Defender 27
3 Andreu Fontas Defender 30
4 Roberto Puncec Defender 28
5 Matt Besler Defender 32
6 Ilie Sanchez Midfielder 29
7 Johnny Russell Forward 29
8 Graham Zusi Defender 33
9 Alan Pulido Forward 28
11 Khiry Shelton Forward 26
12 Gerso Fernandes Forward 28
13 Gianluca Busio Midfielder 17
14 Amadou Dia Defender 26
15 Roger Espinoza Midfielder 33
16 Graham Smith Defender 24
18 Eric Dick Goalkeeper 25
19 Erik Hurtado Forward 29
20 Daniel Salloi Forward 23
21 Felipe Gutierrez Midfielder 29
23 Tyler Freeman Forward 17
26 Jaylin Lindsey Defender 19
28 Cameron Duke Midfielder 18
29 Tim Melia Goalkeeper 33
36 Luis Martins Defender 27
75 Wan Kuzain Midfielder 21
85 Felipe Hernandez Midfielder 21
  Gadi Kinda Midfielder 25
  Wilson Harris * Forward 20
  John Pulskamp * Goalkeeper 18
  Kaveh Rad * Defender 18
  Camden Riley * Defender 23
  Jake Davis ** Midfielder 18
  Tucker Lepley ** Midfielder 18
  James Kasak ^^ Defender 21
  Jaret Townsend ^^ Midfielder 21

* Under contract with Sporting KC II
** Member of Sporting KC Academy
^^ Unsigned MLS SuperDraft selection