Saturday, February 22, 2014

Sporting Win Two Preseason Games

Sporting KC picked up 2 more preseason wins today down in Florida. In the morning game, a reserve heavy lineup took on Florida Gulf Coast. Adnan Gabeljic scored a pair of goals and Jacob Peterson added a third. Florida Gulf Coast's goal came from the penalty spot. Only two players not under contract started the game for KC, Gabeljic and goalkeeper, Gorrick (who I assume is Devala Gorrick).

In the afternoon game, Sporting took on Fluminense's U23 team. Fluminense started the game well enough, but didn't really test Jon Kempin, who was getting his first minutes of the preseason. Going forward KC looked the better side. Jimmy Medranda forced a nice save by their keeper that turned into a corner for KC. Shortly after that, CJ Sapong had a fantastic opportunity as the ball was played in to Graham Zusi who took a touch then flicked the ball through to Sapong who got in behind Fluminense's defense, but a recovery tackle and interference from the goalkeeper saw the ball go wide of the goal. Finally in the 40th minute, KC's pressure paid off. Medranda won the ball near midfield and played the ball up field to Claudio Bieler. Bieler picked out Paulo Nagamura who fired a shot from distance. His shot skipped off the wet surface and through the hands of the Fluminense keeper and into the net for a 1-0 lead.

The second half saw KC come out and really control the game. It took only 10 minutes for KC to double their lead. Again it was Medranda helping to set it up, playing a chip in to the back post for Bieler. Bieler headed the ball back across the box to the penalty spot. There was no Sporting player there, but the ball continued to roll across the box to Medranda who fired a shot that went under the Fluminense keeper and into the net. Only three minutes later KC added another goal with Bieler again being involved. Chance Myers played the ball in to Bieler who cut the ball back to an on rushing Nagamura who fired a shot that went through the hands of Fluminense's goalkeeper. The Brazilian side had a few chances down the stretch, but didn't really test Kempin in goal much as KC went to the top of their group at the Disney Pro Soccer Classic with 6 points.

Bieler's three assists, even against inferior competition is very encouraging, and he looked good outside those three assists. He looks to have picked up his energy level on the field to fit more with what Peter Vermes wants out of his forwards. And if he is, that could be big for KC this year. The other player that had an impressive performance was Medranda who was aggressive both physically and attacking wise. He wasn't afraid to take on defenders. On the surface he looks like he'd be well able to take the minutes that KC looks like they could lose from Peterson Joseph.

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