Saturday, February 27, 2016

Sporting and Rangers End Preseason in Tucson Unbeaten

Sporting Kansas City and the Swope Park Rangers closed out their runs at the Desert Diamond Cup in Tucson tonight. Both teams finished the run undefeated as the Rangers topped FC Tucson 1-0 while Sporting drew 2-2 with the Houston Dynamo.

The Rangers kicked off 30 minutes ahead of Sporting and controlled the game against the PDL side creating a number of chances. The opener for the Rangers came in the 32nd minute when former Sporting KC academy player Nansel Selbol won a ball off a Tucson defender near midfield. Selbol raced into the box holding off his defender before chipping a ball across the box for Dane Kelley who let the ball bounce before volleying the ball into the net to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead. The Comets continued to pressure, not just in the first, but in the second as well with Tomas Granitto and Tommy Meyer both having good chances but neither able to put it in the net as the Rangers finished the Diamond Cup with a 2-0-2 record.

Sporting KC passed on playing in the Desert Diamond Cup final, passing on playing a second game against the New England Revolution, instead choosing to play the Houston Dynamo who KC had not yet played in preseason. The Dynamo had the better of the chances in the early going and center back Nuno Andre Coelho had to save a ball on the line after a header from Will Bruin. Shortly after Coelho was on the offensive end giving KC the lead in the 16th minute. Off a Connor Hallisey corner, Coelho made a near post run and flicked Hallisey's corner into the net to put KC on top 1-0. The Dynamo continued to control the game though after the goal and found a deserved equalizer when Jalil Anibaba crossed the ball for Giles Barnes to head past Tim Melia on an effort that he would say he should have done better with. The two teams went into the half tied at 1-1.

Kansas City came out better in the second half and was able to push forward more and create more opportunities in the second half. KC had a great opportunity to retake the lead in the 55th when Houston was called for a back pass when a cross was knocked back to Houston goalkeeper Calle Brown, who picked the ball up. On the restart the Dynamo lined up eight players on the goal line and instead of doing a touch and shoot like most teams do in that situation, Dom Dwyer fired the ball to the back post where Daniel Salloi just had to touch the ball home to give Sporting a 2-1 lead. The Dynamo picked up the pressure again and pushed Sporting looking for another equalizer. With all the pressure they found another one after some good interplay Erick Torres got in behind KC's defense and beat Melia to tie the game at 2-2. KC had to be strong defensively over the final 13 minutes to end the preseason unbeaten. Melia was called upon to make some big saves and KC finished the Desert Diamond Cup 1-0-3.

Both Sporting and the Rangers will return home to Kansas City with Sporting getting ready for their season opener against Seattle while the Rangers will continue preseason with a pair of games against local colleges set up over the next couple weeks.

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