Recap: Sporting KC II picks up comeback win at Austin FC II, earns third straight victory 


Sporting Kansas City II (12-7-5, 44 points) picked up a massive three points on the road Friday night, coming from behind to defeat Austin FC II (12-5-7, 46 points) 2-1 at Parmer Field at St. David's Performance Center in Austin, Texas. After the hosts took the lead in the 48th minute, Lucas Rosa blasted the contest level 10 minutes later and Cielo Tschantret found the match-winner four minutes after that. Felipe Hernandez assisted both goals, tallying his second and third assists of the season.

Head coach Benny Feilhaber's starting XI featured eight changes from the team's 1-0 win over MNUFC2 last Friday, including defender and Sporting KC Academy player Alex Cunningham's first start. He was joined by fellow Academy players, Tschantret and goalkeeper Carlito Saylon, both making their second starts of 2023.

Saylon began the match in goal with Cunningham, Mikey Lenis, Nassim Mekidche and Jahon Rad on the back four. Tschantret manned the six while Hernandez and Cam Duke played in front of him in the midfield. Pau Vidal and Sebastian Cruz returned to the starting XI after recovering from injuries with Ozzie Cisneros playing with them in the front three.

It was a tale of two halves as Austin FC II dominated possession in the first, keeping the ball for over 70 percent of the first 45. It was all for naught for the hosts, as the first half ended without either side finding the back of the net.

SKC II earned the first corner of the night after Vidal pinged a shot off a defender's leg. Austin defended and countered, nearly finding the opener in their first sequence. An errant clearance turned into a shot from the top of the box that Mekideche blocked with a sliding effort. The ricochet fell on the far side of the box before being sent well high of the target from up close and personal.

Alonso Ramirez teed one up from long range and sent it barely past Saylon's left post, nearly testing the young keeper early. The goaltender used his hands for the first time in the 16th, darting off his line to collect a rolling ball after Mekideche cut off the runner. 

Austin continued to press the issue 10 minutes later. This time Cunningham was on the defensive end of a blocked shot, shielding the ball over the endline for a goalkick in the process. Vidal had the honor of sending the first shot on goal, a skipping effort that goalkeeper and MLS NEXT Pro clean sheet leader Damien Las saved. 

The match slowed until the clock ticked past the 40th-minute mark. The remainder of the half was played in the visitor's half as Sporting repelled attack after attack. A set-piece was hit wide of the near post, a headed effort flew high of the target from inside the six, Michael Burton cracked one over the bar, Saylon saved a dipping effort from Alonso Ramirez and finally the keeper grabbed a deflected shot in front of his goal in stoppage time. Halftime came as a relief to Feilhaber's side as they survived the onslaught. 

With the second half pending, the SKC II boss went to his bench bringing on birthday boy Rosa, Texas native Ethan Bryant and SKC II's goal contributions leader Alenis Vargas for Lenis, Cruz and Vidal. Rosa made an immediate impact, stymying a dangerous-looking run inside the 18 before Austin earned a pair of corners, converting on the second one off the head of Salvatore Mazzaferro. After the hosts took the lead, the Sporting KC II offense came to life. The boys in Sporting Blue nearly leveled in the 55th and 57th on a pair of crosses that missed their target by a few inches.

In the 58th, Duke cut through the defense before finding Hernandez at the top of the box. SKC II's all-time assists leader laid the ball off for Rosa outside the 18 and the right back rifled one past the diving Las and into the upper 90 for his third goal of the season. Not four minutes later, Hernandez's corner connected with Tschantret on the near post where the 17-year-old expertly flicked the ball into the goal to give the visitors the lead. In just five minutes, SKC II flipped the script of the match, erased a one-goal deficit and secured the lead.

Now clinging to the lead, on the road, against a team that has just one loss at home on the season, SKC II set out to secure all three points. Rosa went running down the sideline again, earning another corner that Austin cleared immediately. Vargas saw a half volley get deflected into Las' grasp and Feilhaber went to his bench to bring on Nati Clarke for Cunningham. 

In the 71st Bryant put Vargas in on goal with a brilliant diagonal ball that split two defenders. The speedy forward rounded Las, however, his touch took him a tad too far for a shot and the ATX II defense was able to retreat behind the ball and prevent a lead-doubling finish. 

Hernandez then picked Toure's pocket and got out on the break. The first-teamers own diagonal ball could not be caught up to by any runners and Austin launched a counter that wound up a corner. On the corner, the initial ball was headed out before a second pass put the home side in on goal. Saylon made a terrific reaction save that will not show up on the stat sheet as the offside flag went up on the far sideline.

Vargas had yet another attempt deflect into Las' arms in the 79th as SKC II continued to play their offensive-minded game. With just under 10 minutes to go in regulation, Mekideche blocked another effort from beyond the 18, this time using his chest to do so. The fourth official showed six minutes of stoppage time on the board when the 90th minute passed and Chris Rindov came on for Tschantret as the final sub of the evening, replacing the would-be match-winning goal scorer.

With three center backs on the pitch and a terrific team effort, Sporting Kansas City II saw the remainder of stoppage time out to secure the massive three points. They handed Austin FC II their second home defeat of 2023 and played spoiler to the host's hopes of clinching a playoff berth on the night. 

With the win, SKC II stays in fourth place and moves just two points behind both Austin FC II and Tacoma Defiance with four matches to play. They will remain at least seven points clear of the playoff line and could be as many as 10 points clear depending on St. Louis CITY2's result at Earthquakes II on Sunday. 

Sporting KC II will put a bow on a two-match road trip next Sunday, Sept. 3 when they travel to Tinsel Town to take on LA Galaxy II at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California. The match will kick off at 9 p.m. CT and will stream live on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV. 

Sporting KC II 2-1 Austin FC II

Sporting KC II
Austin FC II

Sporting Kansas City II: Carlito Saylon; Alex Cunningham (Nati Clarke 69'), Nassim Mekideche, Jahon Rad, Mikey Lenis (Lucas Rosa 46'); Cielo Tschantret (Chris Rindov 90+1'), Felipe Hernandez, Cam Duke; Sebastian Cruz (Ethan Bryant 46'), Pau Vidal (Alenis Vargas 46'), Ozzie Cisneros
Subs Not Used: Ethan Bandre, Josh Coan, Enzo Mauriz, Trajan Wormington

Austin FC II: Damian Las; Joe Hafferty, Kip Keller (Anthony De Anda 84'), Salvatore Mazzaferro, Cheick Toure; Bobosi Byaruhanga (David Rodríguez 81'), Alonso Ramírez (Steeve Louis Jean 65'), Valentin Noel, Micah Burton, Emmanuel Johnson (Christo Vela 65'); Sebastien Pineau (Alfonso Ocampo-Chávez 80')
Subs Not Used: Spencer Sanderson, Bryan Arellano, Christopher Pinkham, Leo Torres

Scoring Summary:

ATX – Salvatore Mazzaferro 3 (Cheick Toure 3) 48'
SKC – Lucas Rosa 3 (Felipe Hernandez 2) 58'
SKC – Cielo Tschantret 2 (Felipe Hernandez 3) 62'

Misconduct Summary:

SKC – Alex Cunningham (yellow card; reckless offense) 12'
SKC – Mikey Lenis (yellow card; dissent) 24'
SKC –Sebastian Cruz (yellow card; reckless offense) 31'
ATX – Micah Burtin (yellow card; reckless offense) 61'
ATX – Joe Hafferty (yellow card; reckless offense) 82'
SKC – Ethan Bryant (yellow card; tactical foul) 84'

Match Statistics
Shots on Goal
Corner Kicks

Referee: Wes Caouette
Assistant Referee: Logan Reeves
Assistant Referee: Jennifer Dumaine
Fourth Official: Hector Hernandez