The decisive final week of the 2020 USL Championship regular season will begin Wednesday when Sporting Kansas City II (4-9-1, 13 points) visits Lucas Oil Stadium for the fourth time this year to battle playoff hopefuls Indy Eleven (7-5-2, 23 points) at 6 p.m. CT. The pivotal Group E clash will stream live on ESPN Plus with additional in-game updates available on Twitter via @SportingKCII.
Already eliminated from postseason contention, Sporting Kansas City II will embrace the spoiler role in their penultimate fixture of the abbreviated 16-game campaign. Indy Eleven, meanwhile, are looking to clinch the second and final playoff spot in Group E with a victory. Indy sits nine points behind Group E winners Louisville City SC and a point clear of third-place Saint Louis FC, having played one game less than their Missouri rivals.
Led by third-year head coach and former Sporting Kansas City great Paulo Nagamura, Sporting II have gone 1-2-0 on their previous three trips to Indy this season. A narrow 2-1 loss on July 18 was followed by a resolute 1-0 victory on Aug. 1, highlighted by Danny Barbir’s brilliant strike in the second half. Head coach Martin Rennie’s side exacted revenge in the third meeting, prevailing 2-1 on Sept. 9 in a game that saw Nick Moon and Jeremy Rafanello score goals to overcome Tyler Freeman’s brilliant late free kick.
Sporting II have lost four on the trot but will nevertheless find plenty of positives to come from an unprecedented 2020 season. Twenty-year-old Academy product Wilson Harris leads the team with seven goals, having become the youngest player in USL Championship history to score 20 times in the division.
Fellow Academy graduates Jake Davis (13 starts) and Kaveh Rad (12 starts) have featured integrally throughout the season, while veteran defender Dillon Serna has chipped in a team-best three assists. The versatile Petar Cuic and center back Danny Barbir have also logged more than 1,000 minutes for a team that will play 14 of its 16 league fixtures away from home this year.
Former Sporting II winger Tyler Pasher has been a notable bright spot for an Indy Eleven outfit that has aspirations of going a step further than last year's Eastern Conference Final appearance. The Canadian has bagged nine goals in 13 appearances, seven more than any other player on the roster, while Moon and Neveal Hackshaw have added two goals apiece.
USL Championship: Match 15 of 16
Date: Wednesday, Sept. 30
Kickoff: 6 p.m. CT
Location: Lucas Oil Stadium (Indianapolis, Indiana)
Live Stream: ESPN Plus
Sporting Kansas City II: 4-9-1, 13 points (4th place in Group E)
Indy Eleven: 7-5-2, 23 points (2nd place in Group E)