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Sporting KC downs DC United in Casa Grande
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Soccer notes

Sporting KC downs DC United in Casa Grande

Plus: Az boys De Leon & Danny Cruz near home for spring training

  • Sporting goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen dives to make sure Nick DeLeon's shot goes wide.
    Joshua Pearson/TucsonSentinel.comSporting goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen dives to make sure Nick DeLeon's shot goes wide.
  • DC United and Sporting Kansas City played a preseason match in Casa Grande that was open to the public.  Kansas City won 2-1.
    Joshua Pearson/TucsonSentinel.comDC United and Sporting Kansas City played a preseason match in Casa Grande that was open to the public. Kansas City won 2-1.
  • Sporting Kansas City forward CJ Sapong is closely watched in the DC United box by defender Dejan Jakovic.
    Joshua Pearson/TucsonSentinel.comSporting Kansas City forward CJ Sapong is closely watched in the DC United box by defender Dejan Jakovic.
  • Sporting midfielder Bobby Convey looks to dribble past United defender Emiliano Dudar.
    Joshua Pearson/TucsonSentinel.comSporting midfielder Bobby Convey looks to dribble past United defender Emiliano Dudar.
  • DC midfielder Andy Najar carries the ball up field against Sporting Kansas City in a preseason match held in Casa Grande.
    Joshua Pearson/TucsonSentinel.comDC midfielder Andy Najar carries the ball up field against Sporting Kansas City in a preseason match held in Casa Grande.
  • KC defender Michael Harrington tackles the ball away from DC tryout Seth C'deBaca.
    Joshua Pearson/TucsonSentinel.comKC defender Michael Harrington tackles the ball away from DC tryout Seth C'deBaca.
  • DC United midfielder Nick DeLeon chests the ball down in the Kansas City box.
    Joshua Pearson/TucsonSentinel.comDC United midfielder Nick DeLeon chests the ball down in the Kansas City box.
  • Kansas City midfielder Roger Espinoza dribbles the ball along the touch line as several DC players close him down.
    Joshua Pearson/TucsonSentinel.comKansas City midfielder Roger Espinoza dribbles the ball along the touch line as several DC players close him down.
  • Arizona native Nick DeLeon fights with Kei Kamara for the ball in DC United's preseason match against Sporting Kansas City.
    Joshua Pearson/TucsonSentinel.comArizona native Nick DeLeon fights with Kei Kamara for the ball in DC United's preseason match against Sporting Kansas City.
  • Sporting Kansas City midfielder Graham Zusi lines up to take a free kick against DC United.
    Joshua Pearson/TucsonSentinel.comSporting Kansas City midfielder Graham Zusi lines up to take a free kick against DC United.
  • The preseason match between DC United and Sporting Kansas City gave both teams a chance to evaluate potential additions before the season kicks off in March.
    Joshua Pearson/TucsonSentinel.comThe preseason match between DC United and Sporting Kansas City gave both teams a chance to evaluate potential additions before the season kicks off in March.
  • Kansas City's Roger Espinoza battles with DC's Robbie Russell.
    Joshua Pearson/TucsonSentinel.comKansas City's Roger Espinoza battles with DC's Robbie Russell.
  • DC United midfielder Ryan Richter powers through the Kansas City midfield.
    Joshua Pearson/TucsonSentinel.comDC United midfielder Ryan Richter powers through the Kansas City midfield.
  • Kansas City defender Aurelien Collin tackles the ball away from DC United defender Daniel Woolard.
    Joshua Pearson/TucsonSentinel.comKansas City defender Aurelien Collin tackles the ball away from DC United defender Daniel Woolard.
  • DC United goalkeeper Bill Hamid collects the ball as Kei Kamara charges into the United box.
    Joshua Pearson/TucsonSentinel.comDC United goalkeeper Bill Hamid collects the ball as Kei Kamara charges into the United box.

Sporting Kansas City played its penultimate preseason scrimmage Saturday, making their way to Casa Grande to play DC United.

DC United was without 2011 league MVP Dwayne DeRosario and Montenegrin midfielder Branko Bošković, but still put a great deal of pressure on Kansas City early, making their first try at goal moments after the opening whistle.

Despite this, Kansas City scored first. The team was awarded a free kick outside the box and Graham Zusi pounded it home.

DC was unable to maintain the pressure, and Kansas City started having more possession and more shots. There were mass substitutions by both teams in minute 60, and any hope that United would be able to take advantage of the change was dashed when substitute Jacob Peterson passed the delivered the ball to Soony Saad in the box, who put in the back of the net.

United managed to pull one back when Danny Cruz crossed a ball to Jose Burciaga Jr. Burciaga, a former Kansas City player, slipped it past Kansas City netminder Erik Kronberg. Despite some attempted late game heroics from Danny Cruz, it was DC's only goal of the match.

FC Tucson's Philippe Garre came in near the of the game as DC United's "guest player." He played the last five minutes as a substitute for tryout Stefan Jerome.

Both teams have Statehood Day scrimmages to close out their stays in Arizona: DC United will face Real Salt Lake at the Reach 11 Sports Complex in Phoenix at 10:30 a.m., while Kansas City ends their time in the Old Pueblo a tilt against our own FC Tucson at the Kino Sports Complex at 10 a.m.

Cruz and DeLeon back in the Grand Canyon state

DC United has been doing their preseason training at Phoenix's Reach 11 Sports Complex. The location is familiar to two of their players, Danny Cruz and Nick DeLeon.

DeLeon had a rather impressive cheering section at the game, which isn't a shock because he grew up just an hour away in Phoenix.

"It's amazing. I never thought I'd be playing in front of my family and friends," said DeLeon after the game.

DeLeon was the seventh overall selection in this year's MLS SuperDraft after two impressive seasons at the University of Louisville. The midfielder started every game during those two seasons and notched 14 goals and 9 assists. He was named to the All-Big East team in both seasons at Louisville.

He's got a soccer in the family too: his father LeRoy DeLeon played for Trinidad and Tobago and several teams in the old North American Soccer League before ending his career with indoor team Phoenix Inferno. His sister Jessica plays college soccer at a school up north that will remain nameless.

DeLeon brings another bonus for long time MLS fans: for anyone missing Carlos Valderrama's hair, DeLeon seems to be working on it.

DeLeon was subbed out of the game for another Arizonan, Glendale's Danny Cruz.

Cruz is not a rookie; he is about to start his third season in MLS. This will, however, be his first season for DC United. Despite scoring the goal against the Porland Timbers that put the Houston Dynamo in the playoffs, and eventually got them into the MLS Cup final, Cruz was traded to DC United in January.

"I'm still getting used to it," said Cruz, referring to his new teammates. "We've been together for three weeks. It definitely takes time, but then it just clicks."

United has opted for a tough preseason schedule: They opened with the Chicago Fire, then a match against 2010 Swedish champion Malmö FF, then Eastern Conference champion Kansas City, and now have an upcoming match with CONCACAF Champions League finalists Real Salt Lake. Cruz likes what the team is getting out of the level of spring competition, even though the score lines have been less than spectacular for his team.

"The better teams you are playing the better you are going to be," he said. "They've been tough games.... At the end of the day, we're just trying to get to know each other, trying to mesh and get to know each other, and I think we did that today."

Sporting Kansas City v DC United

Saturday, Grande Sports World, Casa Grande

  • Scoring Summary
  • SKC – Graham Zusi, 34'
  • SKC – Soony Saad (Jacob Peterson), 62'
  • DCU – Jose Burciaga, Jr. (Danny Cruz), 78'
  • Misconduct Summary
  • SKC - Roger Espinoza (caution, reckless tackle), 19'
  • DCU - Dejan Jaković (caution, reckless foul), 32'
  • DCU - Nick DeLeon (caution, reckless foul), 57'
  • Sporting Kansas City: Jimmy Nielsen (Eric Kronberg 60') - Chance Myers (Michael Harrington 60'), Aurélien Collin (Cyprian Hedrick 60'), Matt Besler (Lawrence Olum 60'), Seth Sinovic (Korede Aiyegbusi 60') - Júlio César (Paulo Nagamura 46'), Roger Espinoza (Luke Sassano 58'), Graham Zusi (Konrad Warzycha 60') - Kei Kamara (Jacob Peterson 60'), C.J. Sapong (Soony Saad 60'), Bobby Convey (Dom Dwyer 60')
  • DC United: Bill Hamid (Joe Willis 46') - Robbie Russell (Chris Korb 60'),   Dejan Jaković (Lance Rozeboom 60'), Emiliano Dudar (Conor Shanosky 60'), Daniel Woolard (Jose Burciaga, Jr. 60') - Marcelo Saragosa (Seth C’deBaca 60'), Perry Kitchen (Matt Armstrong 60'), Andy Najar (Stephen King 60'), Nick DeLeon (Danny Cruz 60') - Maicon Santos (Stefan Jerome 60', Phillipe Garre 85'), Ryan Richter (Alfredo Martins 70')

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