For the fourth time this season, Sporting Kansas City II (4-7-1, 13 points) will venture east across Missouri to battle cross-state rivals Saint Louis FC (5-4-3, 18 points) at West Community Stadium in Fenton, Missouri. Kickoff on Saturday is slated for 7 p.m. CT with a live stream on ESPN Plus and additional in-game updates on Twitter at @SportingKCII.
Saturday’s clash has palpable playoff implications for the hosts, with third-place Saint Louis FC chasing the second and final playoff spot in Group E behind heavyweights Louisville City FC (8-3-2, 26 points) and Indy Eleven (7-5-1, 22 points). Sporting KC II’s postseason hopes hang by the slimmest of threads, but head coach Paulo Nagamura’s side will embrace the spoiler role during the stretch run of an unprecedented and abbreviated USL Championship campaign.
Sporting KC II enters Saturday on adequate rest, having lost 2-1 at Indy Eleven on Sept. 9 in their most recent match. Sporting Kansas City loannee and Academy product Tyler Freeman opened his scoring account in the contest with a wonderfully struck free kick in the 88th minute, and Sporting KC II thought they had equalized in second-half stoppage time only for Danny Barbir’s header to be disallowed in controversial fashion.
This weekend will mark meeting No. 4 between the clubs this season at West Community Stadium. The sides scrapped to an entertaining 1-1 draw on Aug. 5 before Saint Louis FC emerged victorious by a 3-1 scoreline on Aug. 15 and a 3-2 scoreline on Sept. 4. The Friday night contest two weeks ago saw SKC II striker Wilson Harris bag a brace, boosting his team-best goal haul to seven on the season. The 20-year-old has 22 career goals over the last three USL Championship seasons, becoming the league's youngest player to score 20 times.
Nagamura's side has also benefited from strong performances over the course of 2020 from fellow Sporting KC Academy products Jake Davis and Kaveh Rad, who have made 10 starts in midfield and central defense, respectively. Between the posts, 18-year-old goalkeeper Brooks Thompson has recorded two of SKC II's four wins and has an impressive 26 saves to go with a 1.17 goals against average.
On the opposite sideline, Saint Louis FC are aiming to make their second postseason appearance in team history, having previously done so in 2018. With Louisville and Indy both in good form, head coach Steve Trittschuh's team has plenty of work to do over the final four games of the season if they are top break into the top two of Group E and reach the playoffs.
A deep, well-balanced Saint Louis attack features former Sporting KC II forward Tyler Blackwood and Olathe South High School alumb Kyle Greig. Both players scored in the club's thrilling 3-2 victory over SKC II on Sept. 4 and will aim to replicate that result on Saturday.
USL Championship: Match 13 of 16
Date: Saturday, Sept. 19
Kickoff: 7 p.m. CT
Location: West Community Stadium (Fenton, Missouri)
Live Stream: ESPN Plus
Sporting Kansas City II: 4-7-1, 13 points (4th place in Group E)
Saint Louis FC: 5-4-3, 18 points (3rd place in Group E)