Recap: Rauf Salifu strikes four times in SKC II's 4-2 victory over first-place North Texas SC

SKCvNTX 7.2.22-93

Sporting Kansas City II (6-6-2, 20 points) defeated North Texas SC (9-3-2, 30 points) on Saturday night off a four-goal performance from striker Rauf Salifu in the club's final match at Rock Chalk Park in 2022. Salfiu's four-goal performance gives him six goals on the season, a team-high, and is the first four-goal match in SKC II history as well as MLS NEXT Pro history.

Head coach Benny Feilhaber made a handful of changes to the starting XI, placing Joseph Addo Tetteh and Esai Easley on the backline, starting Collin Fernandez and Cade Thomson in the midfield and putting Bakary Bagayoko on the wing. The lone Sporting Kansas City first-team loanee, John Pulskamp, started in goal and made eight crucial saves to earn his third win in six starts.

SKC II brought it to the Frontier Division front runners right out of the gate, putting their backline under pressure in the third minute with a deflected clearance by Bagayoko. The ball fell to Salifu who turned and fired a shot as the offside flag went up on the far side. A minute later, Pulskamp made his first save of the night, diving to his right to make a simple save.

The action continued as Josh Coan gained access to the North Texas box and chopped a centering pass that was cut off at the last moment by North Texas keeper Felipe Carneiro, who had a busy night himself. Pulskamp made his second save of the night with a dive to his left, and followed that up with a finger-tip save over the bar on a shot down the middle. The first advantage fell to the visitors in the 16th minute as Bernard Kamungo put them on top by scoring a cross from close range.

The hosts showed their resiliency, almost leveling the match immediately off the kickoff. Spencer Glass cut inside and ripped a shot at on target, forcing Carneiro into a tough save, his first of eight. Kamungo tried to give SKC II deja vu with a close-range header sent inches wide and Guy Michaeli came on in place of a banged-up Bagayoko in the 30th.

In the 34th winger, Julian Vazquez dropped a perfect diagonal onto the foot of Salifu in the box, but he was unable to get a shot off. He did not wait long to redeem himself as two minutes later a set piece service from Fernandez sought out Salifu. The striker let the ball bounce once in the six and thundered it home with authority to level the match.

Both teams had threatening chances, but the next attempt on target came from North Texas, as Pulskamp made a fourth shot-stopping play in the 45th, catching a headed attempt in the middle of the goal. Salifu then fired SKC II out in front with a slippery move in the box to round the keeper.

Pulskamp boomed the ball downfield on restart, Michaeli flicked the ball on, into the path of Salifu and the forward bagged his brace with his deft move in the box. SKC II took that lead into the half.

Curtez Kellman entered the match, sliding into his number six role in place of Thomson. Coan nearly found the back of the net but his shot ricochet off the arms of Carneiro with the rebound being scooped up instantly. Pulskamp matched that by slapping the ball over the crossbar, and then absorbing lots of contact on the ensuing corner to give SKC II a free kick in the defensive area.

Salifu earned his hat trick with a second assist from Michaeli in the 51st minute to double the lead for the home team. Michaeli tracked back near midfield to receive a pass and curled a through ball over the top to Salifu. The 20-year-old ran onto the ball and cheekily chipped the charging Carneiro for a hat-trick. He became just the fourth player in MLS NEXT Pro history to score a hat trick.

North Texas began an onslaught of the SKC II box, but a handful of impressive defensive efforts kept them on top. Glass slid over to intercept a pass and then expertly played it off his man for a goal kick. Tetteh tracked back and made a sublime goal line clearance after Pulskamp bodied a point-blank effort.

The roles nearly flipped for Salifu and Michaeli as the former played the latter in on goal in the 57th minute. Michaeli's effort found the target but was clumsily kept out. In the 66th Salfiu almost found his fourth, but Carneiro made a terrific save, diving backward and slapping the ball off the line. On the other end, North Texas pulled one back after Pulskamp made a save but was unable to deny the rebound.

The one-goal deficit was increased to two less than a minute later with a solo effort from none other than Salifu. His fourth goal saw him fight through contact, stick with the play and slip the ball into the far corner for his fourth goal.

Neither side would score again as SKC II's defense held North Texas' offense quiet for the final 20 minutes. Cole McLagan stepped up to block multiple shots and defend a handful of crosses and Pulskamp made a terrific diving save in the corner.

Sporting KC II improved to 6-6-2 in MLS NEXT Pro and finished up their time at Rock Chalk Park in style. The team will be on the road for their next two matches with trips to Salt Lake City and Colorado on the itinerary. They will be back in Kansas City and back at the Swope Soccer Village on Friday, July 22 against the Tacoma Defiance. Tickets for all SKC II matches are available on, and all of those matches can be streamed for free at

2022 MLS NEXT Pro | Match 14
Rock Chalk Park | Lawrence, Kansas
Weather: 81 degrees and cloudy

Sporting KC II 4-2 North Texas SC
Sporting KC II 4-2 North Texas SC
Sporting KC II
North Texas SC

Sporting Kansas City II: John Pulskamp; Spencer Glass (Coby Jones 88'), Cole McLagan, Esai Easley, Joseph Addo Tetteh (Draven Barnett 65'); Collin Fernandez, Cade Thomson (Curtez Kellman 45'), Josh Coan; Julian Vazquez (Jahon Rad 88'), Rauf Salifu, Bakary Bagayoko (Guy Michaeli 30')

Subs Not Used: Ethan Bandre, Paul Atta Agyei, TJ Fatah, Mikey Lenis

North Texas SC: Felipe Carneiro; Blake Pope, Alejandro Araneda (Chase Niece - 73’), Pau Amedume, Isaiah Parker; Derek Waldeck (André Costa - 58’), Santiago Ferreira (Blaine Ferri - 73’), Hope Avayevu; Bernard Kamungo, José Mulato (Pablo Torre - 58’), Luis Miguel (Collin Smith - 46’)
Subs Not Used: Seth Wilson

Scoring Summary:
NTX - Bernard Kamungo 9 (Isiah Parker 3) 15'
SKC - Rauf Salifu 3 (Collin Fernandez 4) 37'
SKC - Rauf Salifu 4 (Guy Michaeli 1) 45+1'
SKC - Rauf Salifu 5 (Guy Michaeli 2) 51'
NTX - Pablo Torre 3 (unassisted) 70'
SKC - Rauf Salifu 6 (unassisted) 71'

Misconduct Summary:
NTX - Blake Pope (yellow card; unsporting conduct) 44'
SKC - Collin Fernandez (yellow card; unsporting conduct) 62'
SKC - Rauf Salifu (yellow card; excessive celebration) 71'
SKC - Julian Vazquez (yellow card; unsporting conduct) 78'
NTX - Andre Costa (yellow card; unsporting conduct) 90'

Match Statistics
Match Statistics
Shots on Goal
Corner Kicks

Referee: Alyssa Nichols
Assistant Referee: Michael O'Reilly
Assistant Referee: AJ Franklin
Fourth Official: Drew Klemp