Preview: Sporting KC to face Phoenix Rising FC in preseason opener on Saturday

Sporting Kansas City at Phoenix Rising FC
2021 Preseason presented by Children’s Mercy
Saturday, March 13 | 12 p.m. CT
Wild Horse Pass | Chandler, Arizona
Live Updates: @SKCMatchday on Twitter

More than three months after seeing their 2020 campaign come to an end, Sporting Kansas City will return to the field Saturday to face Phoenix Rising FC in the first scrimmage of the club’s 2021 preseason, presented by Children’s Mercy.

Saturday’s friendly match, which will unfold in in three 30-minute periods, is set for noon CT at Rising FC’s new training facility at Wild Horse Pass in Chandler, Arizona. For live updates of the action, supporters can follow @SKCMatchday on Twitter.

On the heels of a successful 2020 season that saw Sporting finish atop the Western Conference with a 12-6-3 record and a club-record 1.86 points per game, Manager Peter Vermes’ side will look to lay the foundations for another strong campaign on Saturday against a perennial title contender from the second-division USL Championship. Vermes is likely to distribute playing time evenly among the 34 players on Sporting’s preseason roster, with only defender Graham Zusi and Homegrown goalkeeper Brooks Thompson unavailable due to injury.

Several Sporting players who joined the club this offseason could be in line for their preseason debuts this weekend, including 25-year-old French midfielder Remi Walter, 27-year-old goalkeeper Kendall McIntosh and Sporting KC Academy products Grayson Barber and Ozzie Cisneros. French center back Nicolas Isimat-Mirin was another marquee addition for the club, signing an MLS contract in February, but the 29-year-old isn’t slated to join the team in Arizona until next week.

Other notable players expected to feature include newly appointed captain Johnny Russell, striker Alan Pulido, midfielder Gadi Kinda and defender Roberto Puncec, all of whom received Sporting Club awards last fall for their standout performances in 2020. Russell, Pulido and Kinda finished tied for first on the team’s scoring charts with six goals apiece during the 2020 regular season, while Puncec led the side in successful passes, interceptions, clearances and blocks.

Like Sporting, Rising FC enjoyed an excellent season last year. Guided by head coach Rick Schantz, placed second in the overall USL Championship table and were crowned Western Conference champions after winning three straight playoff matches. Phoenix was scheduled to face the Tampa Bay Rowdies in the 2020 USL Championship Final on Nov. 1, but the game was cancelled the day before due to positive COVID-19 tests among Tampa Bay players and staff.

Sporting and Phoenix have met frequently in preseason play over the last three seasons. Vermes’ men are 2-1-1 in four preseason meetings against Rising FC, who managed a 2-1 win against their MLS counterparts 13 months ago.

Sporting KC 2021 Preseason Schedule
(subject to change)

Date
Time (CT)
Opponent
Location
Saturday, March 13
12 p.m.
Phoenix Rising FC
Wild Horse Pass
(Chandler, Ariz.)
Saturday, March 20
5 p.m.
Colorado Rapids
Kino North Complex (Tucson, Ariz.)
Wednesday, March 24
1 p.m.
Portland Timbers
Kino North Complex (Tucson, Ariz.)
Saturday, April 3
2 p.m.
LA Galaxy
Kino North Complex (Tucson, Ariz.)

Sporting KC 2021 Preseason Roster

#
Player
Position
Age
2
Jaylin Lindsey
Defender
20
3
Andreu Fontas
Defender
31
4
Roberto Puncec
Defender
29
5
Nicolas Isimat-Mirin
Defender
29
6
Ilie Sanchez
Midfielder
30
7
Johnny Russell
Forward
30
8
Graham Zusi
Defender
34
9
Alan Pulido
Forward
30
10
Gianluca Busio
Midfielder
18
11
Khiry Shelton
Forward
27
13
Amadou Dia
Defender
27
15
Roger Espinoza
Midfielder
34
16
Graham Smith
Defender
25
17
Gadi Kinda
Midfielder
26
19
Grayson Barber
Midfielder
20
20
Daniel Salloi
Forward
24
21
Felipe Hernandez
Midfielder
22
22
Kendall McIntosh
Goalkeeper
27
23
Tyler Freeman
Forward
18
24
John Pulskamp
Goalkeeper
19
25
Ozzie Cisneros
Forward
16
28
Cam Duke
Midfielder
20
29
Tim Melia
Goalkeeper
34
33
Danny Barbir *
Defender
23
34
Dominik Resetar *
Forward
20
36
Luis Martins
Defender
28
46
Jake Davis *
Midfielder
19
48
Kaveh Rad *
Defender
19
54
Remi Walter
Midfielder
25
55
Gavin Krenecki **
Goalkeeper
18
57
Kayden Pierre **
Defender
18
96
Wilson Harris
Forward
21
 
Matt Constant ***
Defender
22
 
Travian Sousa *
Defender
19

* Sporting KC II player
** Sporting KC Academy player
*** Unsigned MLS Super Draft pick
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