Preview: Sporting to face FC Cincinnati on Saturday to conclude first leg of preseason

Sporting Kansas City vs. FC Cincinnati
2020 Preseason presented by Children's Mercy
Saturday, Feb. 1 | Noon CT
Grande Sports World | Casa Grande, Arizona

Sporting Kansas City will battle fellow MLS outfit FC Cincinnati on Saturday to close out the first leg of the club's 2020 preseason, presented by Children's Mercy. Kickoff is set for noon CT at Grande Sports World in Casa Grande, Arizona, pitting two teams that have enjoyed winning starts to their preseason campaigns in the desert sun.

Led by Peter Vermes, the longest-tenured manager in MLS, Sporting prevailed 4-0 over a team of Phoenix Rising FC trialists last Saturday with Academy products bagging all four goals. Seventeen-year-old Gianluca Busio notched a brace, Daniel Salloi struck early and Sporting KC II striker Wilson Harris added a late fourth in the wire-to-wire performance. Vermes gave playing time to 31 different players, the vast majority of them logging 30 minutes in the first tune-up of 2020.

"Without getting too specific, I would say that the things we worked on during the first five days of training showed themselves well in our first scrimmage," Vermes said earlier this week. "To see that they’re taking tactical ideas and concepts and already implementing them was a very important aspect in that game."

FC Cincinnati enters 2020 hoping to atone for a turbulent inaugural season in MLS. The Ohio side posted a league-worst 6-22-6 record last year and their 24 total points were 10 fewer than any other team. Dutch head coach Ron Jans, appointed last August, has added seven new players in recent months, including former Philadelphia Union playmaker Haris Medunjanin and former Sporting defender Saad Abdul-Salaam, who joins the club after winning MLS Cup 2019 with Seattle Sounders FC.

Tommy McCabe, Andrew Gutman and Joseph-Claude Gyau found the back of the net in FC Cincinnati's curtain-raising 3-0 defeat of Phoenix Rising FC on Wednesday in Tucson. Saturday will serve as a precursor to Cincy's first-ever visit to Children's Mercy Park on July 11.

Sporting and FC Cincinnati scrapped to a 1-1 draw in their inaugural MLS meeting last April. Forward Darren Mattocks fired the hosts into a first-half lead at Nippert Stadium, but Busio's well-taken shot from an acute angle in the 62nd minute restored parity and split the points.

After returning to Kansas City on Saturday night, Sporting will venture back to Arizona for the second preseason stint 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)
or Result
Saturday, Jan. 25 Phoenix Rising FC Trialists W 4-0 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
10 Felipe Gutierrez Midfielder 29
11 Khiry Shelton Forward 26
12 Gerso Fernandes Forward 28
13 Amadou Dia Defender 26
15 Roger Espinoza Midfielder 33
16 Graham Smith Defender 24
17 Gadi Kinda Midfielder 25
18 Eric Dick Goalkeeper 25
19 Erik Hurtado Forward 29
20 Daniel Salloi Forward 23
21 Felipe Hernandez Midfielder 21
23 Tyler Freeman Forward 17
26 Jaylin Lindsey Defender 19
27 Gianluca Busio Midfielder 17
28 Cameron Duke Midfielder 18
29 Tim Melia Goalkeeper 33
36 Luis Martins Defender 27
75 Wan Kuzain Midfielder 21
  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 22

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