KANSAS CITY, Kansas (AP) – Newcastle midfielder Hatem Ben Arfa was stretchered off the ground after a heavy tackle as the English Premier League club was held to a 0-0 draw by Sporting Kansas City in a friendly on Wednesday.
Ben Afra did not return after the 31st minute, raising fears for the French midfielder whose initial season with Newcastle was prematurely ended when he suffered a badly broken leg in a heavy tackle.
Tempers flared and Roger Espinoza was given a yellow card for the reckless tackle on Ben Arfa in the 31st minute.
In stifling conditions, both teams had many more substitutions than goalscoring opportunities.
Sporting didn't record a shot on goal until the 65th minute, when substitute Soony Saad took control in front of the net, spun and hit a well-struck shot that Tim Krul saved with relative ease. Milos Stojcev had another decent chance moments later when his header went just wide.
Danny Simpson had the only shot on goal for Newcastle in the 84th minute, and Krul preserved his clean sheet when he made a leaping save of C.J. Sapong's hard shot in the final minute of regulation time.
Sporting Kansas City, which is on an 11-match unbeaten streak in Major League Soccer, pushed the tempo from the start, perhaps trying to use the heat to its advantage.
That tactic seemed to work early on. Graham Zusi got loose in the first couple minutes but was tackled before he could control a pass, and Brazilian newcomer Jeferson showed off some nifty ball control in the eighth minute and scorched a shot just wide in the 15th minute.
Sylvain Marveaux nearly put Newcastle United ahead in the 21st minute when his shot from a tight angle skipped under the arms of goalkeeper Eric Kronberg, but it went just wide of the net.
Newcastle's Chiek Tiote was given a yellow card a few minutes later for unsporting behavior, and Sporting's Peterson Joseph was shown a yellow card in the 79th minute.
Summer signings Marveaux and Demba Ba made their first starts for Newcastle.