Recap: SKC II takes narrow 1-0 loss to Birmingham

Isaiah Leflore - Sporting KC II vs. Birmingham Legion FC

Sporting Kansas City II (3-13-7, 16 points) slipped to a narrow 1-0 loss at the hands of Birmingham Legion FC (12-6-3, 39 points) on Wednesday night at Children's Mercy Park. Birmingham winger Prosper Kasim decided the game with an impressive strike from distance in the 42nd minute, denying the hosts a result in an evenly contested battle.

Navigating a stretch of three matches in seven days, Sporting KC II head coach Paulo Nagamura reshuffled his lineup to the tune of seven changes. Goalkeeper John Pulskamp, right back Kayden Pierre and midfielders Ozzie Cisneros and Petar Cuic retained their spots after starting in a scoreless home draw against Memphis 901 FC on Sunday afternoon.

Pulskamp did well to drop low and cast aside a piledriver from Birmingham's JJ Williams in the 19th minute, but he could do nothing to prevent Kasim's well-struck curler from nestling into the left corner three minutes before halftime. The 25-yard thunderbolt gave Kasim his second goal of the season, while former Sporting Kansas City midfielder Mikey Lopez tallied an assist on the play.

The game burst to life in the second half as Sporting KC II responded admirably in the 49th minute. Pierre weaved his way through the heart of the field before receiving a pass down the left channel. His cutback ball found an open Christian Duke, but the SKC II captain's first-time effort was parried away by Birmingham goalkeeper Matt Van Oekel. Cisneros' rebound attempt at the top of the box was blocked and Rojay Smith's subsequent shot on the right side of the penalty area sailed wayward.

At the opposite end, Birmingham threatened in the 53rd minute when Kasim intercepted a midfield pass, barreled forward and spread it left to Williams, but Pulskamp was equal to his seething strike and produced a fine stop to keep SKC II within a goal.

Birmingham retreated into a more defensive posture as the contest wore on and SKC II had a pair of long-range attempts go begging near the 80th minute. Cuic saw his sweetly struck turf-trimmer saved by Van Oekel before substitute Michael Lenis did brilliantly to set up Jahon Rad, who lifted his thunderous shot over the crossbar from 22 yards.

SKC II forward Ropapa Mensah returned to the pitch after a two-month absence through injury and nearly marked his comeback with a goal in the 88th minute, outleaping his defender to plant a header onto the post after fellow substitute Enoch Mushagalusa whipped a cross into the mixer.

Nagamura's men will conclude their five-game homestand on Saturday when rivals OKC Energy FC (7-7-8, 29 points) visit Children's Mercy Park. The match will kick off at 4 p.m. CT and stream live on ESPN Plus.

2021 USL Championship | Match 23
Children's Mercy Park | Kansas City, Kansas
Weather: 79 degrees and sunny

Sporting KC II 0-1 Birmingham Legion FC
Sporting KC II 0-1 Birmingham Legion FC
Sporting Kansas City II (3-13-7, 16 points)
Birmingham Legion FC (12-6-3, 39 points)

Sporting Kansas City II: John Pulskamp; Kayden Pierre, Matt Constant, Graham Smith, Isaiah LeFlore; Petar Cuic, Ozzie Cisneros (Michael Lenis 79'), Christian Duke (C) (Jahon Rad 79'); Jamil Roberts (Coby Jones 77'), Zion Long (Ropapa Mensah 77'), Rojay Smith (Enoch Mushagalusa 61')
Subs Not Used: Remi Prieur, Aljaz Dzankic

Birmingham Legion FC: Matt Van Oekel; Phanuel Kavita (C), Ryan James, Alex Crognale, Jonathan Dean; Mikey Lopez (Eli Crognale 68'), Anderson Asiedu; Prosper Kasim, Jaden Servania (Neco Brett 46'), Zachary Herivaux (Thomas Vancaeyezeele 57'); JJ Williams (Jake Rufe 81')
Subs Not Used: Ford Parker, Trevor Spangenberg, Ben Ofeimu

Scoring Summary:
BHM -- Prosper Kasim 2 (Mikey Lopez 2) 42'

Misconduct Summary:
BHM -- Mikey Lopez (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 63'
BHM -- JJ Williams (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 69'

Match Statistics
Match Statistics
Shots on Goal
Corner Kicks

Referee: Brandon Stevis
Assistant Referee: Andrew Charron
Assistant Referee: Shane Kennard
Fourth Official: Velimir Stefanovic