Sporting KC II (7-9-2, 23 points) concludes a run of back-to-back road matches with a Texas-sized matchup against Houston Dynamo 2 (10-4-4, 36 points) at AVEVA Stadium in Houston, TX on Sunday night. Kickoff for the third and final MLS NEXT Pro regular season meeting between SKC II and Houston is set for 7 p.m. CT and will be streamed live on MLSNEXTPro.com.
In their first meeting this season, Houston took home a 3-0 win on April 10 at Rock Chalk Park. SKC II responded with a 1-0 win at PNC Stadium on June 11, Houston's first and only loss as the home team this season. Sunday presents the rubber match in the series as the two clubs are not scheduled to face each other again in the regular season.
HIGHLIGHTS: Houston Dynamo 2 vs. Sporting KC II | June 11, 2022
In the previous iteration of Sporting KC II vs. Houston Dynamo 2, forward Rauf Salifu netted the contest's only score in the 13th minute, blasting a penalty into the back of the net. It was Salifu's second goal of the season at the time, however, over a month later, the forward leads the team with six goals scored.
The Ghanaian has been helped out in the final third by forward Julian Vazquez whose four goals and three assists both rank second on the club in their respective categories. Sporting KC Academy product Guy Michaeli along with Bakary Bagayoko and Josh Coan have filled in well in the third forward spot. Michaeli, in his first year of professional soccer, has a goal and an assist for SKC II.
The midfield three has been led by the SKC II skipper, Collin Fernandez. The former Chicago Fire Academy player has a team-high four assists and has added a goal in 2022. He is the only player to feature in all 18 matches and paces the club with 1418 minutes played.
Joining Fernandez in the midfield of late has been Curtez Kellman, who has slotted into the number six role well for head coach Benny Feilhaber. Kellman has appeared in 13 consecutive matches, including four straight starts.
The backline has seen a large cast of characters contributing minutes. The outside backs have been filled in by two former Sporting KC Academy players who signed pro contracts this year. Mikey Lenis and Coby Jones have both featured 11 times for SKC II with Lenis scoring his first professional goal against Vancouver Whitecaps 2 on April 24.
Spencer Glass, in his rookie year, eclipsed the millennium mark in minutes last week against North Texas. The former Hoosier has started 11 of his 16 appearances in his first year out of college. Fellow rookie Esai Easley has also surpassed 1,000 minutes on the season. Similarly to Glass, the center back has 11 of his 16 appearances as starts. Easley netted his first pro goal against Earthquakes II and has been partnered with Cole McLagan on the backline for a majority of the season.
McLagan leads the defense in goals scored with two goals this season, both of which were match-winning goals. The goalkeeper position has seen the most turnover as first-team loanees Kendall McIntosh and John Pulskamp have had the lion's share of starts. McIntosh has 10 starts, posting a 4-5-1 record, and Pulskamp is 3-2-1 in his six starts.
First-year pro Ethan Bandre has one appearance, making five saves in his lone appearance. After signing an amateur contract last Friday, Carlito Saylon made his debut for SKC II at North Texas, making three saves in the road defeat.
Houston enters Sunday just three points above the playoff line, ahead of Earthquakes II. Their balanced attack features three players with five goals on the season, Roberto Avila, Papa Ndoye and Marcelo Palomino. Ndoye also has a Houston-high three assists along with two other Dynamo 2 players.
The offense is not the only facet of the Dynamo that make them so formidable. Their 20 goals conceded on the season rank first in the Western Conference and third in MLS NEXT Pro as the least amount of goals given up.
Although SKC II is the only team to beat Houston at home this season, it has been done before. Feilhaber and SKC II will look to recapture their winning touch on the road at AVEVA Stadium on Sunday night at 7 p.m. CT.
MLS NEXT Pro: Match 19
Date: Sunday, August 7, 2022
Kickoff: 7 p.m. CT
Location: AVEVA Stadium (Houston, Texas)
Live Stream: mlsnextpro.com
Sporting Kansas City II: 7-9-2, 23 points
Houston Dynamo 2: 10-4-4, 36 points
Match-specific hashtag:r #HOUvSKC