Peter Vermes addresses his team in Arizona.
Courtesy of Sporting Kansas City

Sporting, Rapids play scoreless draw in preseason

PHOENIX — A couple hundred youth players and other soccer aficionados ringed Field 4 at the Reach 11 soccer complex to watch the 2011 MLS Cup-winning Colorado Rapids and Sporting Kansas City. Although both sides were spirited, neither could break through and the match ended 0-0.

The match was split up into three periods: two of 45 minutes and one of 30 minutes.

The best chances of the game fell to Sporting. Teal Bunbury had a break away around the half-hour mark, but he chipped his shot wide to the right. Later, Chance Myers had a free header off a cross from Konrad Warzycha, but the former #1 overall pick flashed his shot wide. And Travis Bowen, younger brother of Chivas USA’s Tristan Bowen, almost won it with a header of his own with a few minutes left to play.

Colorado’s Ross LaBeaux also nearly turned for the Rapids with a looping header that Eric Kronburg did well to tip over the bar.

Sporting came out the more aggressive on the day, starting with a 4-3-3 that included captain Davy Arnaud at attacking midfield, and a frontline trident of Omar Bravo, Bunbury, and Kei Kamara.

[inline_node:327341]Bravo (right) had a few moments, including a cool heel-flick about a half-hour into the game, but for the most part he was contained by Rapids defender Kosuke Kimura. At one point, Kimura’s tenacious defense got under the Mexican attacker’s skin, and he lashed out with a wayward elbow.

Bravo was, of course, mobbed by fans after the game, and he spent 20 minutes signing autographs.

At centerback, a position still in doubt for Sporting since the offseason departure of Jimmy Conrad, Sporting coach Peter Vermes took a good look at Brazilian defender Julio Cesar Santos Correa. The 32-year-old journeyman, who has previously played for Real Madrid, AC Milan, Benfica, and Olympiakos, among others, performed well, showing the composure and positioning commensurate with his experience.

Another bright spot for Vermes’ side was the play of Supplemental Draft pick Michael Mravec. Tall and steady at holding midfielder, he covered a great deal of ground and allowed Arnaud to push into the attack often.

Colorado’s Gary Smith gave a start to trialist Caleb Folan, who last played for English club Hull City. Big and powerful, the Irishmen largely failed to have an impact on the game, and the Rapids attack sputtered for the most part until Conor Casey came on for the second 45.

For most of the match Smith was shouting toward the midfield, in particular, Jeff Larentowicz. With no Pablo Mastroeni in the team on the day, Larentowicz was the main cog in the Rapids’ midfield, joined by offseason acquisition Joseph Nane.

Another new player, Sanna Nyassi, failed to get into the match much.

The unfortunate news for Colorado came midway through the second period, when Quincy Amarikwa was forced off with a hamstring injury, replaced by Andre Akpan.

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