Loan Lowdown: Kempin stops PK, Lopez starts in USL opener on Saturday

Sporting KC continues its partnership with USL affiliate OKC Energy FC for the 2015 season, loaning players to the club to play games and gain experience throughout the year. Additionally, homegrown goalkeeper Jon Kempin has been loaned to the San Antonio Scorpions of the North American Soccer League. Each week, we’ll recap the performances of the Sporting KC players on loan.

While Sporting Kansas City took all three points at Yankee Stadium on Saturday night, two players on loan made their 2015 club debuts a little closer to home.

Goalkeeper Jon Kempin marked his first appearance for the San Antonio Scorpions with a penalty kick save in a 4-2 friendly win over the Costa Rica U-23 National Team at Toyota Field in San Antonio.

Midfielder Mikey Lopez, meanwhile, started and played 77 minutes for OKC Energy FC, who tied in-state rival Tulsa Roughnecks FC 1-1 in the USL season-opener for both teams at Tulsa’s ONEOK Field.

Coming off a preseason in which he joined the U.S. Men’s National Team for the first time in January, Kempin got his new team out of trouble in the 59th minute. With San Antonio leading 3-1, Costa Rica was awarded a penalty kick after defender Nana Attakora committed a foul inside the box. Striker Maurcio Ayales stepped up to the spot, but Kempin dived hard to his left and saved the shot at full stretch. The 21-year-old also produced an acrobatic save earlier in the first half to prevent Costa Rica from taking a 2-1 advantage.

After falling behind in the fourth minute, San Antonio replied with three consecutive goals from Marvin Chavez (8’), Cesar Elizondo (34’) and Eric Hassli (53’). Costa Rica cut the deficit in half with 13 minutes remaining, but Chavez completed his brace in the 89th minute to seal the victory.

Kempin is set to make his competitive debut for the Scorpions next Saturday when San Antonio begins defense of their 2014 NASL Championship. The Tampa Bay Rowdies will visit Toyota Field in the opening match of the NASL Spring Season.

Playing before a sellout crowd of 8,335 at ONEOK Field, expansion side Tulsa Roughnecks FC hosted Energy FC in their first ever USL match. Lopez, who made six preseason appearances for Sporting KC, logged a 77-minute performance for manager Jimmy Nielsen’s squad in the 1-1 stalemate.

Former Sporting KC midfielder Michael Thomas put Energy FC ahead on the stroke of halftime, powering a header into the back of the net off a Chuy Sanchez corner kick. Tulsa’s Bailey Ballew conjured an equalizer in the 72nd minute for the club’s first ever goal, striking a long-range effort off the post and into the net past goalkeeper Evan Newton.

Lopez and Energy FC return to league action next Saturday when they visit Colorado Switchbacks FC, one of 12 USL expansion teams for the 2015 season.