Led by third-year head coach and former Sporting Kansas City midfielder Paulo Nagamura, Sporting Kansas City II will host the Charlotte Independence in the club’s 2020 USL Championship season opener on Sunday at Children’s Mercy Park. Kickoff is set for 4 p.m. CT and tickets are available at SeatGeek.com or at the stadium box office beginning at 2:30 p.m. CT. The contest will stream live on ESPN Plus and @SportingKCII on Twitter will provide additional in-game updates.
Sporting II has returned seven players from the 2019 squad, including 23-year-old Portuguese winger Ze Pedro and Sporting Kansas City Academy products Wilson Harris, Will Little and Brooks Thompson. Ze Pedro joined the club midway through last season and tallied five goals and three assists in just 12 appearances. Harris, meanwhile, led the side with a team-best 12 goals as one of the top-scoring teenagers in American soccer. Sporting II is also likely to field multiple MLS players on loan from Sporting Kansas City and several rising talents from the club’s Academy.
A busy offseason has seen several fresh faces arrive in Kansas City. Among them is 28-year-old veteran Christian Duke, who previously captained the club from 2016-2017. A native of Overland Park, Kansas, Duke has spent the last two seasons with Orange County SC and has now come back to his hometown club, where he could potentially play alongside his younger brother in 19-year-old Sporting Kansas City Homegrown Player Cameron Duke. Other notable newcomers include seven-year MLS veteran Dillon Serna and former U.S. youth international Danny Barbir.
Sporting II are 3-0-1 in their previous four home openers, including wins over Portland Timbers 2 (2016), OKC Energy FC (2017) and Tacoma Defiance (2018) plus a 2-2 tie last season versus Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC. Nagamura’s side went unbeaten against Charlotte in 2019, drawing 0-0 on June 8 at Children’s Mercy Park before posting a 3-0 road victory on Sept. 21 behind a Harris brace and goalkeeper John Pulskamp’s clean sheet.
Under the guidance of head coach Mike Jeffries, Charlotte missed out on the playoffs in 2019 with a 13th-place finish in the Eastern Conference. The club's roster is headlined by Jamaican striker and offseason acquisition Dane Kelly, the USL Championship's all-time leading scorer with 77 goals. Kelly played for Sporting II during its inaugural 2016 campaign, helping the team to its first of two consecutive conference titles and USL Cup Final appearances.
Keep It Clean
To help Sporting KC II maintain a clean, safe and healthy environment at Children’s Mercy Park, please wash your hands thoroughly in restrooms and use hand sanitizer when available. Sanitizing wipes are also readily available for surfaces if needed. Sporting associates are following this approach and your efforts are greatly appreciated!
USL Championship: Game 1 of 34
Date: Sunday, March 8, 2020
Kickoff: 4 p.m. CT
Location: Children’s Mercy Park (Kansas City, Kansas)
Live Stream: ESPN Plus
Sporting Kansas City II: 6-20-8 in 2019 (26 points, 18th place in Eastern Conference)
MLS Affiliate: Sporting Kansas City
Charlotte Independence: 9-14-11 (38 points, 13th place in Eastern Conference)
MLS Affiliate: None