Sporting KC II (4-5-2, 14 points) suffered a 2-1 defeat at home to MNUFC 2 (5-2-3, 21 points) in an MLS NEXT Pro regular season showdown at Rock Chalk Park on Saturday night.

Forward Rauf Salifu netted his first MLS NEXT Pro goal of the season on a second half, stoppage-time penalty to pull SKC II within one but the deficit could not be overcome. Minnesota put two goals in the back of the net within four minutes of each other in the 74th and 78th minute.

Head coach Benny Feilhaber switched up the starting XI, starting Sporting KC loanees Kayden Pierre, Kaveh Rad and Jake Davis alongside Spencer Glass. The rest of the starters remained the same from SKC II's 1-1 draw with Whitecaps FC II a week prior.

The Loons' second team came out firing right out the gate. Eventual goal scorer Diego Pacheco fired a shot off Jahon Rad onto the top of the goal. MNUFC 2 followed that up with a dangerous-looking corner that was headed clear by Esai Easley. A Minnesota restart was headed on goal and Kendall McIntosh made his first of four saves.

Guy Michaeli launched the first SKC II attack of the match moments later, breaking off his man and hitting a shot on target that was saved by Fred Emmings. Easley used his head on the offensive side of the next corner, redirecting the ball goalward where it was blocked in front of goal.

The match slowed, but in the 21st McIntosh was called back into action, diving down to his right to make a two-hand save. With the pace of the shot, all the keeper could do was slap the shot to the side where Pierre was waiting to clean up the mess, clearing the ball over the end line.

A quick counter from MNUFC 2 five minutes later freed Pacheco at the top of the box where his shot was blocked by a desperate Pierre, joined by captain Collin Fernandez. McIntosh would come up clutch yet again for SKC II, dropping down as fast as he could to smack a headed corner off the line.

The leading Sporting KC II goal scorer Mataeo Bunbury got involved a half-hour into the match by bringing the ball under control with his chest, cutting inward and firing a shot inches wide, all while being dragged down by a Loons defender. In the same minute, Pierre sliced and diced his way into the box and slid the ball to Michaeli whose shot whistled wide.

Emmings made another save, catching a J. Rad header off a set piece in the middle of the goal. Bunbury was clattered into in the box but no penalty was given and the half ended goalless.

The second half began opposite the first, slowly and meticulously played by both sides. The first lethal attack went to MNUFC 2 again, with McIntosh securing a shot, cross combo on the near post. The keeper sparked an attack, sending Pierre in a dead sprint right at the Minnesota defense. The defender slipped the ball to substitute TJ Fatah who unleashed a shot across the face of goal and just past the far netting.

In the 75th, the scoreless deadlock was broken with a Thomas Williamson strike. The visiting forward gained access to the SKC II box and put a shot past a diving McIntosh into the far corner. The hosts nearly leveled in the 77th with Michaeli sending a shot on target that Emmings saved, but it was the away side that scored next with a cross to the backdoor that was tapped in by Pacheco.

A trio of SKC II chances went wanting. Cade Thomson entered the match and curled a shot wide, Fernandez hit an attempt over the bar and Fatah almost scored on a Josh Coan diagonal ball to the goal line but the timing was milliseconds off. In the second minute of second half stoppage time, Salifu made it a ballgame. After a Minnesota handball in the box, the forward stepped up to the spot and drilled a penalty over Emmings' outstretched hands.

SKC II would not be able to find the second goal as time ran out.

The boys are back in action next week with a brief, one-match road trip to Houston for a match with Dynamo Dos. The match will be streamed on as SKC II looks to pick up a third consecutive road victory against the second-place team in the Frontier Division. SKC II returns to Rock Chalk Park on Friday, June 17 for a rematch with St Louis City2. Tickets for the grudge match are on sale at now.

2022 MLS NEXT Pro | Match 11
Rock Chalk Park | Lawrence, Kansas
Weather: 67 degrees and cloudy

Sporting KC II 1-2 MNUFC 2
Sporting KC II

Sporting Kansas City II: Kendall McIntosh; Kayden Pierre, Esai Easley, Jahon Rad, Spencer Glass; Kaveh Rad (Curtez Kellman 73'), Collin Fernandez, Jake Davis (Cade Thomson 80'); Mataeo Bunbury (TJ Fatah 60'), Guy Michaeli (Rauf Salifu 80'), Julian Vazquez (Josh Coan 73')
Subs Not Used: Ethan Bandre, Coby Jones, Mikey Lenis, Cole McLagan

MNUFC 2: Fred Emmings; Carlos Leatherman, Nabilai Kibunguchy, Jason Ramos, Davin Padelford; Nicholas Mendonca, Ignacio Gutierrez, Diogo Pacheco, Justin McMaster (Veljko Petkovic 74'), Emmanuel Iwe (Diego Garcia 89'); Thomas Williamson (Perry Blay 90+3')
Subs Not Used: Andrew Brown, Alec Smir

Scoring Summary:
MIN - Thomas Williamson (Nicholas Medonca) 74'
MIN - Diogo Pacheco (Veljko Petkovic) 78'
SKC - Rauf Salifu (Penalty Kick) 90+2'

Misconduct Summary:
MIN - Nicholas Medonca (Yellow Card; unsporting conduct) 16'
MIN - Diogo Pacheco (Yellow Card; unsporting conduct) 40'
SKC - Mataeo Bunbury (Yellow Card; unsporting conduct) 51'
SKC - Guy Michaeli (Yellow Card; delaying a restart) 58'

Match Statistics
Shots on Goal
Corner Kicks

Referee: Katherine McCormick
Assistant Referee: Jennifer Dumaine
Assistant Referee: Jay Norris
Fourth Official: Kyle Armstrong