Hot off a thrilling 3-2 road victory over Memphis 901 FC last weekend, Sporting Kansas City II (2-6-4, 10 points) will look to continue their winning ways on Friday night when Central Division heavyweights Louisville City FC (5-2-2, 17 points) visit Children’s Mercy Park. The USL Championship showdown will kick off at 7 p.m. CT and stream live on ESPN Plus.
Under the guidance of head coach Paulo Nagamura, Sporting KC II claimed three massive points Saturday night in a five-goal thriller at AutoZone Park. Rookie Rojay Smith fired the visitors ahead with a brilliant first-half strike and Enoch Mushagalusa continued his fine run of form with a team-leading fourth goal of the season in the 55th minute to make the score 2-0. The hosts responded admirably, drawing level with two goals in six minutes, but defender Danny Barbir clinched the SKC II triumph by latching onto Jake Davis’ corner kick and heading home in the 72nd minute.
Barbir’s goal was part of an all-action defensive display that vaulted the 23-year-old into the USL Championship Team of the Week bench on Tuesday.
Louisville City FC are two-time USL Championship title winners, having hoisted the trophy in 2017 and 2018 before returning to the league final in 2019. The Kentucky outfit has advanced to the conference finals in all six years of its existence, notably beating Sporting KC II (formerly the Swope Park Rangers) in the 2017 USL Cup.
After parting ways with John Hackworth on April 27, Louisville appointed Danny Cruz as its interim head coach. The team has enjoyed a strong start to 2021 with five wins, two losses and two draws, including a 3-0-1 record in the last four games. Louisville has bagged multiple goals in four straight matches and prolific striker Cameron Lancaster leads the side with five strikes this season.
Sporting KC II and Louisville will meet three times this year, with another matchup at Children's Mercy Park slated for July 28. Nagamura's men will then visit Lynn Family Stadium on Aug. 7 and Oct. 9. Louisville won three of four meetings in 2020, all of which took place at the club's new state-of-the-art venue.
USL Championship: Match 13
Date: Friday, July 2
Kickoff: 7 p.m. CT
Location: Children's Mercy Park (Kansas City, Kansas)
Live Stream: ESPN Plus
Sporting Kansas City II: 2-6-4, 10 points (7th place in Central Division)
Louisville City FC: 5-2-2, 17 points (2nd place in Central Division)
Match-specific hashtag: #SKCvLOU