Winger Enoch Mushagalusa scored a brace as Sporting Kansas City II (1-3-4, 7 points) earned a hard-fought 2-2 draw on the road at Atlanta United 2 (3-2-3, 12 points) on Wednesday night. Mushagalusa twice gave Sporting II the lead with his first goals of the season, only for the team to be pegged back twice with all four goals coming in a 14-minute period in the second half.
Head coach Paulo Nagamura made seven changes to the team that dispatched FC Tulsa 4-1 a week ago, with Academy goalkeeper Gavin Krenecki stepping in between the sticks, while defenders Kayden Pierre and Aljaz Dzankic, midfielders Christian Duke and Jake Davis and forwards Rojay Smith and Ropapa Mensah also came into the squad.
Sporting II were on the front foot for much of the game and started the brighter of the two teams. In the ninth minute, Amadou Dia’s corner kick caused a scramble in the Atlanta 2 area before Mushagalusa’s attempt was palmed away by former Sporting KC goalkeeper Alec Kann.
SKC II threatened again in the 23rd minute with Homegrown fullback Pierre whipped in a brilliant cross from the right wing that found Mensah six yards out, but Kann again was able to block the effort, this time with his leg.
Pierre was a thorn in Atlanta’s side all game and he created the best opportunity of the first half in the 40th minute when he spun away from two Atlanta United 2 midfielders before slipping in Smith, but the winger could only hit the side-netting.
Moments after Atlanta 2 were fortunate to retain all 11 players on the field after Efrain Morales shocking challenge on Duke resulted in just a yellow card, Mushagalusa gave Sporting II the lead in the 61st minute. Mensah found the 21-year-old on the left wing and Mushagalusa did the rest, cutting inside of his man and curling a brilliant finish into the corner for his first goal of the season.
The joy was short-lived as Atlanta produced a controversial equalizer in the 67th minute. Pierre was deemed to have committed a foul on the wing despite replays showing a well-timed slide tackle. The ensuing free kick found the head of Atlanta 2 captain Bradley Kamdem Fewo who bundled the ball toward goal with the linesman adjudging the ball had crossed the line as Dia cleared it from underneath the bar.
Undeterred, Sporting II and Mushagalusa came roaring right back. Just two minutes after Atlanta’s equalizer, Dia sent Mushagalusa down the left wing and the winger showed all the trickery in his arsenal as he skipped around Josh Bauer, cut away from Kamdem Fewo and fired beyond Kann to restore Sporting II’s lead.
The frantic 14-minute period was punctuated with another Atlanta 2 equalizer in the 74th minute. A cross from the left wing was redirected to the edge of the area where substitute Coleman Gannon slammed home an excellent finish to level the score.
Both sides had chances to win it late on as Krenecki first denied Chris Allan before David Mejia fired just wide for the hosts, while at the other end Mushagalusa was inches from a hat trick with a curling effort before Davis saw a thunderous strike flash just over the bar in second-half stoppage time.
Sporting II are back in action next Wednesday, June 16 when the team heads to ONEOK Field in Oklahoma to take on FC Tulsa. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. CT on ESPN+.
2021 USL Championship | Match 8
Fifth Third Bank Stadium | Kennesaw, Georgia
Weather: Partly cloudy and 72 degrees
|Sporting Kansas City II (1-3-4, 7 points)||0||2||2|
|Atlanta United 2 (3-2-3, 12 points)||0||2||2|
Sporting Kansas City II: Gavin Krenecki; Kayden Pierre, Aljaz Dzankic, Danny Barbir, Amadou Dia; Petar Cuic (Jayvin Van Deventer 26’ (Jahon Rad 86’)), Christian Duke (C), Jake Davis; Rojay Smith, Ropapa Mensah (Dominik Resetar 77’), Enoch Mushagalusa
Subs Not Used: Max Trejo, Matt Constant, Michael Lenis, Ozzie Cisneros
Atlanta United 2: Alec Kann; Aiden McFadden, Josh Bauer, Bradley Kamdem Fewo (C), Caleb Wiley; Chris Allan, Efrain Morales (William Reilly 60’), Robbie Mertz; Connor Stanley (David Mejia 72’), Matias Benitez, Darwin Matheus (Coleman Gannon 60’)
Subs Not Used: Rocco Rios Novo, Bryce Washington, Ajani Fortune, Alex Garuba
SKC – Enoch Mushagalusa 1 (Ropapa Mensah 2) 61’
ATL – Bradley Kamdem Fewo 1 (Unassisted) 67'
SKC – Enoch Mushagalusa 2 (Amadou Dia 1) 69’
ATL – Coleman Gannon 2 (Unassisted) 74’
SKC – Jake Davis (Yellow Card; Unsporting Behavior) 47’
ATL – Efrain Morales (Yellow Card; Unsporting Behavior) 58’
ATL – Robbie Mertz (Yellow Card; Unsporting Behavior) 80’
SKC – Amadou Dia (Yellow Card; Unsporting Behavior) 82’
SKC – Kayden Pierre (Yellow Card; Unsporting Behavior) 87’
|Shots on Goal||6||4|
Referee: Natalie Simon
Assistant Referee: Tyler Wyrostek
Assistant Referee: Austin Holt
Fourth Official: Joshua Belk