What To Make Of Sporting’s 2014 Preseason

SKC drew Portland Timbers 1-1 in preseason match in Tucson, Ariz.
by Skylar Rolstad   |   Monday, February 03, 2014

John Hefti Photography - SKC, Sporting KC

The first glimpse of what Sporting Kansas City will look like on the pitch next season was taken in Saturday evening in a preseason match against the Portland Timbers.

While Sporting’s most important first team players, Matt Besler and Graham Zusi, were playing in the United States Men’s National Team’s international friendly against South Korea that day, players like Aurelien Collin, Seth Sinovic, CJ Sapong, and Claudio Bieler featured in the 1-1 draw. Portland’s Darlington Nagbe and Will Johnson matched up against them. Some new faces playing for SKC in the match were Andy Gruenebaum and Sal Zizzo.

Claudio Bieler played an interesting role in the lineup Saturday night, as an attacking midfielder behind Dom Dwyer. There is not much to be read into that move, given that Bieler was one of the only available players in the match to play in the midfield. However, Bieler looked quite comfortable in the midfield and the role of low-lying playmaker suits the way he plays up top as center forward. Dwyer in front of him as a false nine could highlight Bieler’s clinical finishing ability as well as Dwyer’s speed as a run draws a defender to make space in the attacking third. Although a fun idea to think about, Bieler’s distribution to the wings would not be adequate for SKC’s 4-3-3 system. A 4-4-1-1 would be the ideal formation for Bieler to be playing in a low-lying position, but Peter Vermes’ tactics aren’t changing anytime soon.

Sporting’s new forward Zizzo made an impression by scoring a goal from a free kick, his header sailed across the 18-yard box, hit the far post, and fell into the back of the net. Most players were only on the field for 45 minutes, including Zizzo, so as far as assessing anything with bearing on what Sporting’s season will be like these appearances are insignificant. Zizzo, a somewhat inconsistent yet sometimes promising prospect, has played with a few teams in MLS but failed to maintain a role as a starter. Zizzo is expected to provide depth at the winger position in 2014.

In more pressing news, Sporting re-signed rightback Chance Myers after prolonged contract negotiations. In the end, it was admitted by Myers that he was only waiting for his time training in Brazil with the United States national team to end until he returned to Kansas City to sign a new deal.

Sporting’s next preseason match will be Friday, Feb. 7, in Pinal County, Ariz. Where Sporting will play the newly-formed NASL club Indy Eleven at 1 p.m. EST.

NEXT UP: March 8 – Sporting Kansas City vs. Seattle Sounders, CenturyLink Field, Seattle, Wash. 3 p.m. EST, NBCSN.


Univ. of Kansas
Club Domestic:
Sporting KC
Club Foreign:
AC Milan
A student at the University of Kansas. He writes for the Sporting Kansas City club column for Soccer Newsday and is a regular at Sporting Park. His passion for soccer can best be described as unhealthy.