Sporting Kansas City II (3-3-1, 11 points) repelled a valiant comeback effort from Earthquakes II (3-3-0, 9 points) to claim a 2-1 victory over their Western Conference foes Friday evening at PayPal Park. A goal on either side of halftime for Sporting KC II was enough to sink Quakes II and snap a two-match losing skid for head coach Benny Feilhaber's side.
The SKC II starting XI saw four changes made from Sunday's loss to Dynamo Dos including goalkeeper Ethan Bandre slotting back into the lineup. The keeper keeps his undefeated record intact, posting a 2-0-1 record in his first three starts of 2023. First-team loanee Chris Rindov started on the back four with Lucas Rosa, Mo Abualnadi and SKC Academy player Nati Clarke. The midfield three was comprised of a pair of first-teamers, Danny Flores and Ozzie Cisneros as well as Ethan Bryant. The usual front three of Sebastian Cruz, Pau Vidal and Andrew Draper started their fourth match together.
HIGHLIGHTS: Earthquakes II vs. Sporting KC II | May 05, 2023
For the first time in four matches, SKC II was held goalless in the first 10 minutes of play. The best opportunity for the visitors to extend that streak came in the seventh minute when a pair of corners both nearly yielded a goal. The first connected with Rindov on the back post but the redirect took a deflection out for another corner. That service was played short to Cisneros, sent back to Rosa and fired on target where Emmanuel Ochoa made a blind, kick-save for his first stop of the match. Bryant almost curled the rebound in but his attempt drifted inches high.
In the 11th, Rosa was close to his second assist of the season when his searching cross into the box skipped across the turf just past a pair of runners. In the defensive third, Abualnadi made a smart defensive play, poking a cutback away from Will Richmond's target. On the ensuing corner, Bandre fought through a great deal of contact in his six to punch the ball upfield.
A minute past the 20-minute mark, SKC II began their onslaught on San Jose's goal which would eventually turn into the first goal of the contest. Cruz made a terrific move to cut inside and generate a powerful shot on target. Ochoa was wise to it and smacked the shot down. Not a minute later Vidal was played behind the defense on a perfectly timed run and through-ball from Cisneros. The forward barely missed his sixth goal of the season, pinging a shot off the outside of the near post.
Just two minutes later, Draper gave SKC II a much-deserved lead after a Quakes II faux pas in their defensive half. A back pass to Ochoa was collected by the keeper and held for too long allowing the SKC II press to take shape. Draper picked off the pass, settled himself in the box and chopped a shot on target. The ball rolled past Ochoa and was nearly cleared off the goalline, however, a mishit clearance resulted in SKC II's first goal.
San Jose, now looking to equalize, nearly did so in the 27th when a set piece was not cleared all the way away from danger. A shot was sent back toward the goal and drifted just high and wide of Bandre's right-hand upper-90. The following goalkick was turned over before Rindov made a stellar defensive play to block a cross and then earn SKC II a throw.
The next notable opportunity for either side came off a Bryant half-volley at the top of the box that flew just high of the target and onto the top netting. The midfielder got back into the attack moments later after he turned over San Jose and found Vidal in the same spot where he sent his half-volley off target. The nine's effort was blocked off the outstretched leg of a defender.
Abualnadi made his second crucial tackle of the match, taking the ball off Richmond's foot on the endline, and regaining possession before it could go out for a corner. Late in the half Bandre snagged a corner out of the air and Flores was booked with the match's first yellow before the halftime whistle came with Sporting KC II out in front with a one-goal advantage.
The second half began with team captain and eventual goalscorer Josh Coan entering the match for Cisneros. Nearly making an instant impact, Coan found Bryant in a dangerous area, teeing up the midfielder for a shot that was blocked in traffic. Nearly 50 minutes into the match, Rindov made a sublime intervention, shutting down a long spell of San Jose possession in the final third. If not for the defender's key interception the hosts would have been in on goal.
Alejandro Cano earned the first yellow card for San Jose in the 54th minute after steamrolling through Vidal near midfield. Bandre made his first save two minutes later, diving to his right to touch a shot aside with his fingertips and not allow a rebound from a charging attacker. Enzo Mauriz came on for Bryant in the 59th before Bandre was called into action again, diving to his left this time to turn aside a left-footed attempt from Richmond.
Rindov got involved in the attack on a Coan free kick, heading the offering over the goal from close range in the 62nd. A little under five minutes later and the game would be turned on its head when Coan earned SKC II a penalty after being pulled down by Ochoa in the box. The team captain would take the penalty himself and calmly converted, sending Ochao the wrong way.
In the 70th, Keny Martinez and Yeison Mejia entered for Vidal and Draper, bringing an end to Vidal's streak of five consecutive matches with a goal. In the 78th, San Jose scored after a blocked shot was recovered and tucked into the far corner by Rodolfo Castro. With 10 minutes plus stoppage time to go SKC II was now defending a one-goal lead.
In the 81st a corner kick was headed away and sent back at Bandre who was interfered with on the way up giving the road team a breather. It did not last long as seconds later another cross was almost headed on target from up close but the redirect sailed over the net. Roberto Hategan was given a yellow after a late challenge on Clarke and Nassim Mekideche came on for Flores to give SKC II some defensive help and height.
Mejia was shown his first yellow in the 87th and then given a second yellow right at the beginning of the four minutes of stoppage time. Now playing with 10 men in stoppage time, SKC II looked to close out the contest. The hosts could only muster one more shot on target in the form of a Hategon turf burner that Bandre handled with relative ease. SKC II held on to the slim, one-goal lead and brought home all three points from northern California.
Back in the win column, SKC II will return to Rock Chalk Park on Sunday, May 14 to face LA Galaxy II for the first time since May of 2021 when the two sides met in USL Championship regular season play. Tickets are on sale at SeatGeek.com and admission is free for ages 12 and under. The match can be live-streamed for free at MLSNEXTPro.com and fans can follow @SportingKCII on Twitter for updates throughout the 2023 MLS NEXT Pro campaign.
2023 MLS NEXT Pro | Match 7
PayPal Park | San Jose, CA
Weather: 59 degrees and cloudy
Sporting KC II
Sporting Kansas City II: Ethan Bandre; Lucas Rosa, Chris Rindov, Mo Abualnadi, Nati Clarke; Danny Flores (Nassim Mekideche 85'), Ozzie Cisneros (Josh Coan 46'), Ethan Bryant (Enzo Mauriz 59'); Sebastian Cruz, Pau Vidal (Keny Martinez 70'), Andrew Draper (Yeison Mejia 70')
Subs Not Used: Matthew Hudson, Mikey Lenis, Jahon Rad, Alenis Vargas
Earthquakes II: Emmanuel Ochoa; Oscar Verhoeven, Israel Carrillo (Edwyn Mendoza 34'), Alejandro Cano, Keegan Tingey; Cameron Cilley, Cruz Medina (Alex Chow 69'), Eduardo Blancas (Roberto Hategan 68'); Jerry Ayon (Sebastian Carbajal 84'), Rodolfo Castro, Will Richmond
Subs Not Used: Eric De La Cerda, Giancarlo Mota Morfin, Nathan Rodrigues
SKC – Andrew Draper 1 (unassisted) 24'
SKC – Josh Coan 1 (penalty) 67'
SJ – Rodolfo Castro 1 (unassisted) 78'
SKC – Danny Flores (yellow card; reckless offense) 45+1'
SJ – Alejandro Cano (yellow card; reckless offense) 54'
SJ – Roberto Hategan (yellow card; reckless offense) 84'
SKC – Yeison Mejia (yellow card; tactical foul) 87'
SKC – Yeison Mejia (yellow card/red card; reckless offense) 90+1'
Shots on Goal
Referee: Alexis Da Silva
Assistant Referee: Melissa Beck
Assistant Referee: Loren Barnett
Fourth Official: Andrew Hanks