1st Desert Friendly is a draw - Tucson News Now

1st Desert Friendly is a draw

TUCSON, AZ (SportingKC.com) - Sporting Kansas City and the Portland Timbers drew 1-1 Saturday night in an MLS preseason match at the Kino Sports Complex in Tucson, Arizona. Sal Zizzo and Schillo Tshuma traded goals as Sporting KC moved to 1-0-1 during their 2014 preseason campaign.

Sporting KC Manager Peter Vermes used separate squads in each half for the second consecutive match and used 24 players overall. Vermes was without Matt Besler, Graham Zusi and Benny Feilhaber who all featured for the U.S. Men's National Team earlier in the day in a friendly vs. the Korea Republic.

Playing against his former club for the first time since December's trade, Zizzo put Sporting KC ahead in the 31st minute off a set piece. Claudio Bieler curled a perfectly placed free kick to the penalty spot and Zizzo headed the ball off the far post to give Sporting KC the early lead.

The physical affair saw the referee hand out five yellow cards including four in the first half. Center back Aurelien Collin picked up two cards – his second minutes after Zizzo's goal – forcing Sporting KC to play the final 57 minutes with only 10 men.

With the man advantage, Portland pushed forward in the second half looking for the equalizer. The push paid off as Schillo Tshuma, the No. 17 overall pick in the MLS SuperDraft, found the back of the net in the 84th minute. Fellow draft pick Aaron Long played a sublime ball over the top of the Sporting KC defense and Tshuma chipped the bouncing ball past goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum to level the match.

Gruenebaum made three saves in the second half including a kick save on Nikita Kotlov in the 91st minute. Kotlov slipped past a pair of defenders, but the Overland Park native stood his ground and deflected away the 21-year-old's attempt.

Sporting KC will play one more preseason game in Arizona before returning to Kansas City. The defending MLS Cup champions will take on NASL expansion side Indy Eleven Friday at 3 p.m. CT at Kino Sports Complex.

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