After a week off, Sporting KC II is back for more MLS NEXT Pro action with a home match against the top of the west, North Texas SC. Kickoff for the Saturday night matchup is set for 7 p.m. CT at Rock Chalk Park in SKC II's final match at the Lawrence venue in 2022. Tickets are on sale at SeatGeek.com and cost just $10 for general admission seats.
In their last match, SKC II slipped to a 2-1 defeat at home to St Louis City2. Julian Vazquez netted his third goal of the campaign, but two quick City2 goals proved to be enough to sink SKC II. Head coach Benny Feilhaber and the team's three-match road winning streak is still intact as they will play two straight road matches following Saturday's home contest.
Saturday marks the second meeting between SKC II and North Texas. The FC Dallas MLS NEXT Pro affiliates took home three points in the previous meeting this season by way of a 2-0 victory on May 1. Immediately after that match, SKC II went on a three-match win streak and picked up five results in their next six matches.
Leading the charge on that run was winger Vazquez. The 21-year-old Vazquez leads the team with three assists and six total goal contributions. He also has three goals. Rauf Salifu has rounded into form as of late, scoring two goals in his last three matches.
The midfield has been highlighted by Collin Fernandez who is the only member of the squad to appear in every match. He ranks second on the team in minutes played (1058), is tied with Vazquez with three assists and has donned the captain's armband on 11 occasions. He has been joined in the midfield by Cade Thomson (two assists) and a bevy of first-team loanees including Jake Davis who netted the equalizer against WFC2 in late May.
The SKC II defense has seen consistent play from Jahon Rad, Cole McLagan, Spencer Glass and Esai Easley. Rad leads the team in minutes (1059) and has provided veteran leadership to the younger guys on the team. McLagan sparked the win streak for SKC II, scoring the match-winner against Real Monarchs, and filled in the role of captain in the previous two matches.
Glass and Easley, both rookies out of college have begun to find their footing in MLS NEXT Pro. Glass was called up to the first-team and appeared in Sporting KC's Open Cup Round of 32 win over Dallas while Easley has found the back of the net once this season for SKC II.
The goalkeeper position has seen a trio of players start. John Pulskamp and Kendall McIntosh have been the most frequent starters with Pulskamp tending goal on five occasions to McIntosh's seven starts. Ethan Bandre made his professional first professional start against St Louis, making five crucial saves in a stellar debut performance.
Looking at the other side of the pitch, North Texas SC enters the match tied for first in the Frontier Division and sits atop of the Western Conference. Their 30 points this season are second-most in MLS NEXT Pro, trailing only Columbus Crew 2 in the east.
They have turned to forward Bernard Kamungo who has fired home eight goals and added two assists this season. He scored in the previous rendition of SKC II vs. NTX. Fellow forward Hope Avayevu has also carried his weight, tallying six assists, an MLS NEXT Pro high so far this season.
MLS NEXT Pro: Match 14
Date: Saturday, July 1
Kickoff: 7 p.m. CT
Location: Rock Chalk Park (Lawrence, Kansas)
Live Stream: mlsnextpro.com
Sporting Kansas City II: 5-6-2, 17 points
North Texas SC: 9-2-2, 30 points
Match-specific hashtag:r #SKCvNTX