Sporting Kansas City II (2-3-1, 8 points) suffered a 4-1 setback to Houston Dynamo 2 (2-3-1, 8 points) Sunday evening at Rock Chalk Park in Lawrence, KS. In an MLS NEXT Pro regular season showdown, SKC II scored first in their sixth consecutive match but was outpaced by the visiting Houston side as they went on to score four unanswered.
Head coach Benny Feilhaber made seven changes to the starting XI including three Sporting KC first-team loanees and three SKC II players returning from short-term loans up to the first team starting in the match. The three first-teamers included goalkeeper Kendall McIntosh, defender Cam Duke and midfielder Ozzie Cisneros. The three returning SKC II players were defender Mo Abulanadi, midfielder Ethan Bryant and forward Sebastian Cruz. Duke and Abuanadi were joined by Lucas Rosa and Jahon Rad on the back four while Enzo Mauriz played as a holding mid. Pau Vidal and Andrew Draper rounded out the front three and the SKC II starting XI.
For a fourth straight match, SKC II struck within the first 10 minutes, and for a fifth consecutive contest, it was Pau Vidal who got the scoring started early. Cruz bounced a through ball up the field and into the Houston penalty area where Vidal ran onto it, controlled it with a bit of skill and passed the ball past an oncoming Xavier Valdez to give the hosts a one-goal cushion. Cruz picked up his second assist of the season on the score and Vidal remains tied for second in the league with five goals scored.
McIntosh, who would make five saves on the night had a heroic stop in the 16th minute when a close-range effort was fired right at his head. The keeper got his arms up in time to both block the shot and protect himself, smacking the effort away from any danger. Dynamo Dos went on to level the match two minutes later when Diego Gonzalez got on the end of a Yair Gonzalez cutback at the penalty spot. The visitors then took the lead in the 22nd when Papa Ndoye converted a penalty after Rad was whistled for an infraction inside the box.
The next bit of action came in the 35th when a Houston cross ricocheted off McIntosh's crossbar and back into play. A Dynamo Dos player latched onto the loose ball and ripped a shot from close range into the legs of his own teammate. That rebound was collected and promptly sent over the top of the goal for a goal kick. Not a minute later, Houston regained control and launched another attack that was slammed shut by a terrific defensive effort inside the area by Rosa on SKC II's right defensive flank.
Rosa, now getting involved in the attacking third, scooped a shot over the goal after being played the ball at the top of the box by Mauriz. Cisneros then could not find the target before Draper was denied by the crossbar for the first time in the match. The winger was played in on goal by Duke, beat the keeper on the back post and was only just barely denied by the top of the woodwork right before the halftime whistle came.
Feilhaber made one change at the break bringing on first-team loanee Danny Flores for Mauriz. Five minutes into the second, Draper nearly found the equalizer when he burned the keeper with a chipped effort. His cheeky crack at goal was turned aside by a last-ditch, defensive effort on the goalline. In the 56th, Draper rattled the crossbar once more, blasting a one-time shot off a loose ball off the top of the bar and over the endline.
McIntosh made another save, this time calmly dropping down to smother a turf burner fired on goal. SKC II still trying to level the match nearly did so off a redirected Bryant shot. Valdez readjusted to the deflection and made an acrobatic save to retain his lead. In the 69th, two more subs came on for SKC II in Josh Coan and Alenis Vargas, replacing Cisneros and Draper respectively. Right as the subs came on a quick restart from Dynamo Dos was lofted into the area and headed near McIntosh's right-hand post but just off target.
Coan fired an attempt on target that was smacked down by a well-positioned Valdez in the 71st and Houston were granted another kick from the spot a little over five minutes later in the 77th. This time it was Y. Gonzalez who stepped up to take the kick and he converted this one as well. Keny Martinez and Chris Rindov came on for Vidal and Rad in the 85th as the final SKC II subs. Houston picked up a fourth score on a counterattack as SKC II were pressing high needing two goals in a short period of time.
Next up for Sporting KC II is a road match at San Jose Earthquakes II on Friday, May 5 at PayPal Park with kickoff at 9 p.m. CT. Fans can catch all of the Western Conference clash on MLS SEASON PASS on AppleTV or follow @SportingKCII on Twitter for live updates throughout the contest.
HIGHLIGHTS: Sporting KC II vs. Houston Dynamo 2 | April 30, 2023
2023 MLS NEXT Pro | Match 6
Rock Chalk Park | Lawrence, KS
Weather: 56 degrees and sunny
Sporting KC II
Houston Dynamo 2
Sporting Kansas City II: Kendall McIntosh; Lucas Rosa, Jahon Rad (Chris Rindov 85'), Mo Abualnadi, Cam Duke; Enzo Mauriz (Danny Flores 46'), Ethan Bryant, Ozzie Cisneros (Josh Coan 69'); Sebastian Cruz, Pau Vidal (Keny Martinez 85'), Andrew Draper (Alenis Vargas 69')
Subs Not Used: Ethan Bandre, Bakary Bagayoko, Nati Clarke, Nassim Mekideche
Houston Dynamo 2: Xavier Valdez; Omar Grey, Ifeanyi Udanoh, Talen Maples, Jathan Juarez; Jacob Evans, Sebastian Rodriguez (Paolo Rios 72'), Papa Ndoye (Diego Rosas 85'), Diego Gonzalez, Yair Gonzalez (Cesar Cordova 85'); Ezekiel Soto (Isaiah Reid 60')
Subs Not Used: Andrew Pannenberg, Brian Alanis, Parker Jackson, Tate Lampman, David Ndong Nguema
SKC – Pau Vidal 5 (Sebastian Cruz 2) 8'HOU – Diego Gonzalez 2 (Yair Gonzalez 1) 18'HOU – Papa Ndoye 3 (penalty) 22'HOU – Yair Gonzalez 1 (penalty) 78'HOU – Isaiah Reid (Diego Gonzalez 2) 86'
HOU – Diego Gonzalez (yellow card; tactical foul) 20'
SKC – Jahon Rad (yellow card; reckless offense) 21'
HOU – Jacob Evans (yellow card; reckless offense) 24'
SKC – Enzo Mauriz (yellow card; tactical foul) 37'
SKC – Danny Flores (yellow card; reckless offense) 53'
SKC – Cam Duke (yellow card; tactical foul) 66'
HOU – Paolo Rios (yellow card; tactical foul) 72'
HOU – Omar Grey (yellow card; reckless offense) 90'
Shots on Goal
Referee: Jj Bilinski
Assistant Referee: Justin Mack
Assistant Referee: Patrick Slane
Fourth Official: Kyle Armstrong