Three Sporting Kansas City penalty kicks contributed to a 4-1 defeat for the Colorado Rapids on Wednesday night in the third match of their Desert Diamond Cup campaign in Tucson.
Paulo Nagamura netted two from the spot in the first half. Dom Dwyer buried a third pk midway through the second half, before Seth Sinovic scored from open play. Zach Pfeffer finished first-time for a Colorado consolation.
On a positive note, Designated Player Shkëlzen Gashi made his Rapids debut, playing the first 45 minutes, having only arrived in camp last weekend.
The Albanian international, who signed for the Rapids from Swiss Super League side FC Basel earlier this month, played wide left in a 4-2-3-1 formation in a contest ultimately decided by spot kicks.
Having enjoyed a bright opening, the Rapids were then rocked on their heels as first Dominique Badji felled Saad Abdul-Salaam on 17 minutes, and then Micheal Azira was called for a foul on Amadou Dia just two minutes later. Both were inside the penalty area, both resulted in spot kicks and both were tucked away by Nagamura.
Kevin Doyle had two good looks before the interval; the first from a Gashi floated freekick and the second when released down the inside-right channel. On both occasions, Sporting KC goalkeeper Alec Kann was well positioned. Kann then got down well to deny Badji as the Rapids finished the first half with a flurry of chances.
Englishman Dwyer made it 3-0 on 68 minutes, again from the penalty spot, before Sinovic connected with a Chance Myers cross four minutes later to complete the scoring for Sporting KC.
Dwyer and Sinovic were two of 10 changes that Peter Vermes made on the hour mark, as Sporting finished the match with what many will feel is their strongest lineup. The Rapids, meanwhile, used 22 players - 11 in each half. It was two new faces that combined eight minutes from time for the Rapids’ only goal of the game, as draft pick Dennis Castillo pulled the ball back for offseason signing Zach Pfeffer to sweetly sweep past Tim Melia from 15 yards.
The Rapids complete their preseason program this Saturday. In a bid to afford all players as much game-time as possible, coaching staff have arranged a scrimmage against Columbus Crew SC (10:30 A.M. MT), before the Desert Diamond Cup concludes with a contest against USL side Arizona United S.C. (6:30 P.M. MT).
Colorado Rapids 1-4 Sporting Kansas City
February 24, 2016 - Kino Sports Complex, Tucson, AZ
SKC - Paulo Nagamura (pen), 17’
SKC - Paulo Nagamura (pen), 19’
SKC - Dom Dwyer (pen), 68’
SKC - Seth Sinovic (Chance Myers), 72’
COL - Zach Pfeffer (Dennis Castillo), 82’
Rapids: Zac MacMath (Chris Froschauer*, 46’); Eric Miller (Dennis Castillo*, 46’), Bobby Burling (Stephen Keel^, 46’), Axel Sjöberg ( A.J. Cochran^, 46’), Mekeil Williams (Marc Burch, 46’); Jared Watts (Sam Cronin, 46’), Micheal Azira (Brad Spencer^, 46’); Dominique Badji (Luis Solignac, 46’), Dillon Powers (Zach Pfeffer, 46’), Shkëlzen Gashi (Dillon Serna, 46’); Kevin Doyle (Conor Doyle, 46’).
Sporting: Alec Kann (Tim Melia, 60’); Saad Abdul-Salaam (Chance Myers, 60’), Ike Opara (Daniel Salloi, 38’; Nuno Andre Coelho, 60’), Kevin Ellis (Matt Besler, 60’), Amadou Dia (Seth Sinovic, 60’); Lawrence Olum (Jordi Quintilla, 60’), Soni Mustivar (Roger Espinoza, 60’), Paulo Nagamura (Brad Davis, 60’); Jacob Peterson (Graham Zusi, 60’), Kenny Cooper (Benny Feilhaber, 46’), Connor Hallisey (Dom Dwyer, 60’).
^ Indicates trialist
* 2016 MLS SuperDraft pick
The Rapids season starts on Sunday, March 6 at 1 p.m. MT on the road against San Jose Earthquakes, with the Home Opener at Dick's Sporting Goods Park against LA Galaxy on Saturday, March 12 at 5 p.m. MT. For more information or to purchase season tickets, click HERE, or call 303-825-GOAL.