Recap: Sporting Kansas City II earns hard-fought 1-1 draw with OKC Energy FC in home opener

Sporting Kansas City II (0-1-1, 1 point) battled to a hard-fought 1-1 draw with OKC Energy FC (0-2-1, 1 point) at Children’s Mercy Park on Friday night. In a physical and chippy game that saw eight cards handed out, Sporting II salvaged a point when Tyler Freeman’s late strike cancelled out Frank Lopez’s opener.

Sporting KC II started the game with seven SKC Academy products on the field: right back Kayden Pierre, midfielders Jahon Rad, Cam Duke and Ozzie Cisneros and forwards Grayson Barber, Wilson Harris and Tyler Freeman. In addition, Sporting II started with nine loanees from the first team, as goalkeeper Kendall McIntosh and defenders Graham Smith and Amadou Dia saw their first action of 2021, joining Pierre, Duke, Cisneros, Barber, Harris and Freeman as first-team players in the lineup.

Sporting KC II started brightly but it was visiting OKC Energy FC that threatened first, as McIntosh dove to his right to push away Robert Coronado’s free kick in the 10th minute. Three minutes later, Cisneros produced some magical footwork in the midfield before freeing Freeman down the left wing who in turn found Harris at the far post, but the prolific striker’s effort was charged down.

From the ensuing corner, Sporting II thought they’d taken the lead when center back Matt Constant rose above the crowd and sent a perfectly placed header toward the bottom corner, only for OKC goalkeeper C.J. Cochran to dive to his left and palm the ball away to safety.

After a stoppage in the middle of the half as McIntosh received treatment after catching a boot to the head, Freeman curled a free kick that had Cochran worried again and the veteran stopper was forced to parry the attempt away for a corner.

Freeman again tested Cochran early in the second half with another free kick after Barber had done extremely well to pinch the ball back and earn a free kick on the edge of the area.

Sporting II made two double changes in the 61st and 68th minutes, allowing first-team players Duke, Harris, Pierre and Barber to exit the game with Jake Davis, Enoch Mushagalusa, Michael Lenis and Rojay Smith replacing them. For 17-year-old Lenis, it was his professional debut having signed an Academy contract with SKC II prior to last week’s opener in Tulsa.

OKC made a change of their own in the midst of the Sporting II subs, with Frank Lopez coming on and the stocky striker immediately made an impact, running onto Villyan Bijev’s through ball in transition and firing a powerful low shot that snuck beneath McIntosh and into the back of the net to give the visitors the lead in the 70th minute.

With the game seemingly getting away from the young SKC II squad, substitute Mushagalusa pulled a rabbit from a hat when he received Graham Smith’s diagonal pass out of the back before eliminating Coronado with ease on the dribble and cutting a cross back to Freeman who slammed his finish into the roof of the net, making the score 1-1 in the 84th minute.

Freeman would have one final chance to win the game, but after a carbon-copy setup to the goal – this time with Rojay Smith the provider – the 18-year-old was unable to keep his shot down under pressure.

Deep into second-half stoppage time, OKC Energy goalscorer Lopez was shown a straight red card after violently stomping on Christian Duke in the midfield as the two sides shared the points.

Up next for Sporting II is a home clash with Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC next Friday, May 14 at Children’s Mercy Park. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. CT on ESPN+.

2021 USL Championship | Match 2
Children's Mercy Park | Kansas City, Kansas
Weather: 65 degrees and cloudy

Sporting Kansas City II (0-1-1, 1 point)
OKC Energy FC (0-2-1, 1 point)

Sporting Kansas City II: Kendall McIntosh (C); Kayden Pierre (Michael Lenis 68’), Matt Constant, Graham Smith, Amadou Dia; Jahon Rad (Christian Duke 77’), Cam Duke (Jake Davis 61’), Ozzie Cisneros; Grayson Barber (Rojay Smith 68’), Wilson Harris (Enoch Mushagalusa 61’), Tyler Freeman
Subs Not Used: Gavin Krenecki, Aljaz Dzankic

OKC Energy FC: C.J. Chochran; Muengnenshime Goshit (Tucker Stephenson 46’), Conor Donovan (C), Mitch Osmond, Robert Coronado; Kodai Iida (Sam Rogers 80’), Arun Basuljevic (Frank Lopez 67’), Hiroki Kurimoto (Charlie Ward 90’), Aiden Daniels, Villyan Bijev; Jonathan Brown
Subs Not Used: Kyle Ihn, Brad Dunwell, Groutchov Pierre

Scoring Summary:
OKC – Frank Lopez 1 (Villyan Bijev 2) 70’
SKC – Tyler Freeman 1 (Enoch Mushagalusa 1) 84’

Misconduct Summary:
OKC – Muengnenshime Goshit (Yellow Card; Unsporting Behavior) 14’
SKC – Cam Duke (Yellow Card; Unsporting Behavior) 41’
SKC – Jahon Rad (Yellow Card; Unsporting Behavior) 55’
OKC – Arun Basuljevic (Yellow Card; Unsporting Behavior) 58’
OKC – Kodai Iida (Yellow Card; Re-entering Field of Play) 79’
SKC – Jake Davis (Yellow Card; Unsporting Behavior) 81’
SKC – Ozzie Cisneros (Yellow Card; Unsporting Behavior) 91+
OKC – Frank Lopez (Red Card; Serious Foul Play) 94+

Shots on Goal
Corner Kicks

Referee: Jon Freemon
Assistant Referee: Jack Ryan-Feldman
Assistant Referee: Matthew Seem
Fourth Official: Jervis Atagana