Sporting Kansas City II (4-3-2, 15 points) took home a point in a road matchup against St. Louis CITY2 (1-4-4, 10 points) Sunday evening at CITYPARK in St. Louis, Missouri. SKC II jumped out to a 2-0 lead midway through the first half, however, the hosts rallied to score twice in the second. St. Louis took the extra point, winning the shootout 5-4. SKC II has now earned a result in three straight matches, as the club enters the middle portion of the MLS NEXT Pro regular season.
The Sporting KC II starting XI featured five first-team loannees including MLS NEXT Pro debutants Robert Castellanos and Robert Voloder. Ozzie Cisneros, Cam Duke and Danny Flores all made another start for the team. Both Cisneros and Duke wrote their name on the scorer's sheet, scoring within 10 minutes of each other.
Ethan Bandre tended the net for SKC II with Mikey Lenis making his first or 2023 start at right back, Castellanos and Voloder in the middle and Nassim Mekideche out left. Flores and Cisneros were joined in the midfield by Ethan Bryant who re-entered the SKC II starting XI after coming off the bench against LA Galaxy II a week prior. Duke slotted in at left-wing with Pau Vidal in the middle and Alenis Vargas on the right wing.
HIGHLIGHTS: St Louis CITY2 vs. Sporting KC II | May 21, 2023
Throughout the first half, St. Louis controlled possession, however, it was SKC II who would strike in the opening 45. Vidal was played in behind the CITY2 defense in the sixth minute but his advancement was halted by an offside flag. Three minutes later, the home side fired the first shot on target, a slow roller that was easily collected by Bandre in the middle of the goal.
In the 15th Vargas beat his man at the top of the box and was ripped down from behind. It appeared that he was taken down within the penalty box but the ref awarded a regular free kick. This proved inconsequential as Bryant's service was headed by Vidal off the far post before Cisneros picked up the loose ball and hammered it into the back of the net.
On the other end of the pitch, Bandre made his second save of the first half, dropping down to the ground to block a shot with an outstretched leg. Not two minutes later, SKC II jumped back on the attack with Vargas leading the charge. The Honduran was played over the top of the defense, settled the ball and dropped a dime onto Duke's head. The Sporting KC Academy product perfectly placed his headed effort past the keeper and doubled the advantage.
Mekideche nearly added a third in the 28th with a headed attempt of his own, but his offering drifted inches past the right-hand post and out. Bandre made a third save, smothering another rolled offering at his goal. Again, Vargas was fouled in the attacking third and as SKC II looked to play the advantage through Vidal and Bryant the play was blown dead. On the cusp of halftime, CITY2 had a goal called back due to an offside player in the buildup. SKC II took the 2-0 lead into the break.
Five minutes into the second half, the lead was cut in half when Caden Glover scored his first professional goal from close range. Five minutes after that, the match was nearly brought even before another offside call wiped a goal off the board for St. Louis. This came after Bandre made a brilliant diving save.
Duke launched the first SKC II attack of the half but saw his long-range effort denied by a diving Ben Lundt. SKC II head coach Benny Feilhaber went to his bench for the first time in the 58th bringing on Sebastian Cruz and Lucas Rosa for Vargas and Lenis. In the 63rd, St. Louis drew level on a goal from Akil Watts off an Isak Jensen assist.
In the 66th two CITY2 corners were defended well by the visitors. The second one saw Bandre snare the ball out of the air and spark a quick counter at the other end. Lundt again was up to snuff, smacking a shot away with a diving effort. Bryant connected with Castellanos on a corner in the 75th but again the headed shot was saved by Lundt.
Consecutive crosses for Vidal from a pair of SKC II players went wanting with just five minutes to play. The first came off the right foot of Cruz inside the 18 and skipped inches out of reach of the Spanish Forward. The second came off a Bryant set piece that found the run of Castellanos at the endline. The defender's turf burner bounced barely behind Vidal's dash toward goal.
Bandre made one more save on the night in the 90th before Josh Coan and Andrew Draper entered for the two goalscorers, Cisneros and Duke, on the brink of kicks from the spot. In the shootout, St. Louis converted all five kicks while Vidal's attempt, SKC II's first, was saved. The four following SKC II kick takers made theirs but St. Louis escaped with the extra point.
It will be a short turnaround for SKC II as they host Real Monarchs at Rock Chalk Park on Friday, May 26 at 7 p.m. CT. Tickets are on sale at SeatGeek.com for just $10 and children under the age of 12 receive free admission. In their last meeting, SKC II put four past the Real Salt Lake second team, claiming a 4-0 win at Zion's Bank Stadium on April 14.
Fans can also catch the match on MLS Season Pass on the Apple TV App or follow @SportingKCII on Twitter for live updates throughout the week.
2023 MLS NEXT Pro | Match 9
CITYPARK | St. Louis, MO
Weather: 79 degrees and sunny
Sporting KC II
St. Louis CITY2
Sporting Kansas City II: Ethan Bandre; Mikey Lenis (Lucas Rosa 60'), Robert Castellanos, Robert Voloder, Nassim Mekideche; Danny Flores, Ozzie Cisneros (Josh Coan 90+3'), Ethan Bryant; Alenis Vargas (Sebastian Cruz 62'), Pau Vidal, Cam Duke (Andrew Draper 90+4')
Subs Not Used: Carlito Saylon, Mo Abualnadi, Nati Clarke, Enzo Mauriz, Jahon Rad
St. Louis CITY2: Ben Lundt; Owen O'Malley (Sergio Rivas 79'), Michael Wentzel, Joshua Yaro, Ezra Armstrong; Akil Watts (AJ Palazzolo 79'), Max Schneider, John Klein (Faysal Bettache 61'), Aziel Jackson, Isak Jensen, Caden Glover (Wan Kuzain 72')
Subs Not Used: Christian Olivares, Dida Armstrong, Ryley Gibbs, Larsen Hackworth, Fritz Volmar
SKC – Ozzie Cisneros 2 (unassisted) 16'
SKC – Cam Duke 1 (Alenis Vargas 3) 25'
STL – Caden Glover 1 (unassisted) 51'
STL – Akil Watts 2 (Isak Jensen 1) 63'
SKC – Pau Vidal (saved)
STL – Max Schneider (converted)
SKC – Josh Coan (converted)
STL – Faysal Bettache (converted)
SKC – Ethan Bryant (converted)
STL – Michael Wentzel (converted)
SKC – Andrew Draper (converted)
STL – Wan Kuzain (converted)
SKC – Lucas Rosa (converted)
STL – Ezra Armstrong (converted)
STL – Joshua Yaro (yellow card; reckless offense) 15'
STL – Owen O'Malley (yellow card; reckless offense) 32'
SKC – Cam Duk (yellow card; reckless offense) 69'
STL – Michael Wentzel (yellow card; tactical foul) 84'
SKC – Robert Castellanos (yellow card; tactical foul) 86'
Shots on Goal
Referee: Luis Arroyo
Assistant Referee: Ryan Starr
Assistant Referee: Eric del Rosario
Fourth Official: Matt Geringer