Sporting Kansas City II kicked off the 2021 USL Championship season with a 2-0 loss to FC Tulsa on Saturday night at ONEOK Field.
Although the visitors grew in confidence over the course of the second half, Tulsa did their damage in the first 25 minutes as Rodrigo Da Costa and Dario Suarez found the back of the net to condemn Sporting KC II to defeat.
A youthful SKC II starting XI averaged just 20.1 years of age and featured eight players who developed in the club’s academy. Center back Matt Constant, holding midfielder Jayvin Van Deventer and Sporting Kansas City loanees Grayson Barber and Ozzie Cisneros all earned their professional debuts, while Tyler Freeman joined Barber and Cisneros as an MLS player on loan.
Tulsa created their first opportunity in the 13th minute when Jorge Corrales surged down the left wing and served in a low cross to Da Costa, who blasted high from close range. The duo would combine more successfully a minute later, as Da Costa ran onto another Corrales delivery and side-footed a simple finish past goalkeeper Gavin Krenecki.
Sporting KC II’s best moment of the first half came with 23 minutes on the clock. After captain Christian Duke did well to win his team a free kick just outside the left edge of the box, Freeman unleashed a blistering free kick that dipped a few feet over the crossbar.
The hosts doubled their lead in the 25th minute as Da Costa went from goal scorer to provider, cutting the ball back for Suarez to send a right-footed curler into the far corner.
A strong second-half performance saw Sporting KC II grow into the game, thanks in part to Freeman’s activity in attack. The 18-year-old embarked on an impressive solo run in the 57th minute, only to see his shot blocked at the top of the box.
Barber singlehandedly conjured SKC II’s best chance of the night by winning a tackle, marauding forward, cutting onto his left foot and pinging a shot off the post in the 62nd minute. Not long later, Duke overlapped down the left and flashed a 22-yard blast narrowly wide.
Tulsa spurned a late opportunity when Eric Bird hammered a shot over the bar in the 84th minute, but the result was already secured as head coach Michael Nsien’s side improved to 2-0-0 on the year.
Sporting KC II will now prepare for their Children’s Mercy Park home opener next Friday when regional rivals OKC Energy FC visit Kansas City. The contest will kick off at 7 p.m. CT and stream live on ESPN Plus.
2021 USL Championship | Match 1
ONEOK Field | Tulsa, Oklahoma
Weather: 72 degrees and partly cloudy
|Sporting Kansas City II (0-1-0, 0 points)||0||0||0|
|FC Tulsa (2-0-0, 6 points)||2||0||2|
Sporting Kansas City II: Gavin Krenecki; Kayden Pierre, Matt Constant, Danny Barbir, Christian Duke (C); Jayvin Van Deventer (Petar Cuic 61'), Ozzie Cisneros (Enoch Mushagalusa 61'), Jake Davis; Grayson Barber, Dominik Resetar (Rojay Smith 76'), Tyler Freeman
Subs Not Used: Max Trejo, Aljaz Dzankic, Jahon Rad, Ropapa Mensah
FC Tulsa: Sean Lewis; Bradley Bourgeois (C), Modou Jadama, Kevin Garcia, Jorge Corrales; Eric Bird (Ciaran Winters 85'), Joaquin Rivas, Raphael Ayagwa; Matt Sheldon (Kembo Kibato 74'), Rodrigo Da Costa (Jerome Kiesewetter 61'), Dario Suarez (Marlon Santos 74')
Subs Not Used: Michael Cunningham, Solomon Kwambe, Austin Wormell
TUL -- Rodrigo Da Costa 1 (Jorge Corrales 2) 14'
TUL -- Dario Suarez 2 (Rodrigo Da Costa 1) 25'
TUL -- Bradley Bourgeois (yellow card; time wasting) 45'
SKC -- Ozzie Cisneros (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 48'
SKC -- Tyler Freeman (yellow card; dissent) 58'
TUL -- Eric Bird (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 59'
TUL -- Jerome Kiesewetter (yellow card; simulation) 78'
|Shots on Goal||1||5|
Referee: Elijio Arreguin
Assistant Referee: Seth Barton
Assistant Referee: Shane Kennard
Fourth Official: Jose Lara