Sporting Kansas City II (13-8-5, 47 points) slipped to a 3-2 home defeat against Chicago Fire FC II (9-8-9, 40 points) on Sunday night at Children's Mercy Victory Field at Swope Soccer Village. After jumping out to a two-goal lead midway through the first Sporting KC II's lead was halved by a stoppage-time penalty right before the break. A second-half penalty conversion and follow-up finish gave Fire II the lead which they maintained for the final 30 minutes of the half.
Sebastian Cruz netted his fifth goal of the season on Josh Coan's eighth assist. With his eighth setup, Coan sets the single-season SKC II record for assists in a single year. Lucas Rosa then buried a banger of a free kick, placing his set-piece perfectly in the upper-90 of the target. Rosa now has four goals on the campaign to go along with his four assists.
Rosa was joined in head coach Benny Feilhaber's starting XI by Jahon Rad, Chris Rindov and Nati Clarke in the defensive third. Homegrown loanee John Pulskamp was in net and made numerous clutch saves, including his first of the night which resulted in the SKC II counter that became their first goal. Cielo Tschantret, Cam Duke and Ethan Bryant patroled the midfield while Cruz, Coan and Alenis Vargas played in the final third.
The match got off to a hot start with a golden opportunity for both sides to jump out in front in the first 10 minutes. Chicago took the first and second chances of the match, the first winding up a blocked shot off the leg of Duke and the second a massive save from Pulskamp. After a turnover in the back four, Chicago broke in on goal. Pulskamp got off his line and, at full extension, denied the one-on-one attempt, parrying the ball away from danger.
Sporting KC II scooped up the loose ball and worked it downfield. The ball was sprayed out wide to a waiting Coan on the left side where he made his way into the box and snuck a delicious ball through the Fire II defense. The pass trickled through to Cruz who settled and fired into the back of the net to give SKC II the early lead.
Following the goal, SKC II kept the pressure on the Chicago defense, keeping possession in the final third. A beautiful run of play led to Rosa finding Bryant inside the box who forced Chicago goalkeeper Mihajlo Miskovic to make his first save of the evening. After turning brilliantly at the top of the 18, Bryant ripped a rocket right into the arms of the well-positioned goaltender.
In the 18th, Rosa again cut the ball back from the endline into Miskovic's path. The keeper dove off his line, smacked the cross away and saw it cleared out by his defender. While chasing the ball, Cruz got fouled from behind. The SKC II set piece wound up as another restart for the hosts after Rad was hammered down just outside the box on the left side of the field.
Rosa stepped up to the ball with Bryant next to him. Rosa made the first move to the ball, strode up to it with confidence and struck it perfectly with his right. His go-for-goal expertly rose over the wall and dipped back under the crossbar in a near-impossible spot for the keeper to make the save. SKC II had doubled their lead off a moment of brilliance from Rosa.
Just over four minutes later, Pulskamp made another save, dropping down to snare a hard shot from a tight angle inside the box. Five minutes following that, Coan almost found the third but came up empty after Miskovic made a diving save, reaching his arms out as far as they could go. Henrique Gallina wound up from long range and curled the ball over the top of the target in the 29th as the Fire tried to mount a comeback.
In the 35th, Pulskamp was called on again, answering said call with a kick save after the ball was given away by SKC II at the top of their own box. He stamped his name on the match again in the 39th with a one-handed reactionary stop on the goal line on a redirected, headed corner kick. Chicago pulled one back in the 45+2 minute when Rad was called for a foul after attempting to shield the ball out. Luka Prpa converted the kick and would soon bag a brace of penalty kicks on the other side of halftime.
Coming out of the break Feilhaber made two swaps, bringing on Robert Castellanos and Vitor Dias for Rad and Tschantret. The first action of the second half came in the 48th when Gallina was shown a yellow for ripping down Duke near midfield. In the 50th, more action came as Clarke was called for a foul inside the box and given a yellow for the transgression. Prpa sank his kick in a similar fashion to his first.
Trying to get back on top, Cruz rolled a cross into the box for Vargas who got on the end of it. However, his effort popped high into the air and floated over the net. Coan then went galloping through the midfield with acres of space in front of him before cutting inside the box and sending a shot into the grasp of Miskovic. Pau Vidal, SKC II's leading goal scorer, then entered for Vargas in the 57th before Chicago grabbed the future match-winner in the 58th.
Dylan Boros dribbled the ball into the box and then turned back to the top of the area before curling a shot into the goal for the third Fire II finish. With just over 30 minutes left in regulation and an additional 10 minutes for stoppage time, SKC II set out for the equalizer.
Coan connected with Castellanos on a set-piece but the defender's header fell right into the keeper's lap. Duke nearly found a sprinting Vidal up close, though a retreating defender was there to intercept the cross. After those two chances, the Chicago defense picked up their pace, blanking the hosts and preventing any real goal-scoring chances. In the 62nd Ozzie Cisneros entered for Coan.
Chicago nearly doubled their lead in the 75th when a redirected shot thudded off Pulskamp's post and away from goal. In the 89th, Bryant provided another corner ball into the box for Sporting KC II. Vidal got on the end of it and redirected one just over the top of the crossbar. Alex Cunningham entered for Clarke in the 90th as the final sub and Pulskamp made one more save in stoppage time as the comeback effort fell short for Sporting.
The team has two more matches to go in the MLS NEXT Pro regular season before the start of the 2023 Playoffs. The team will be on the road in their next outing when they face MNUFC2 on Sunday, Sept. 17 at National Sports Center in Minnesota. The match will stream live on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV and is set to kick off at 5 p.m. CT.
Sporting KC II
Chicago Fire FC II
Sporting Kansas City II: John Pulskamp; Lucas Rosa, Jahon Rad (Robert Castellanos 46') Chris Rindov, Nati Clarke (Alex Cunningham 90'); Cielo Tschantret (Vitor Dias 46'), Cam Duke, Ethan Bryant; Sebastian Cruz, Alenis Vargas (Pau Vidal 57'), Josh Coan (Ozzie Cisneros 63')
Subs Not Used: Ethan Bandre, Andrew Draper, Mikey Lenis, Enzo Mauriz
Chicago Fire FC II: Mihajlo Miskovic; Justin Reynolds (Eric Leonard 46'), Kendall Burks, Noah Egan (Michael Flores 85'), Henrique Gallina (Sergio Oregel 64'); Luka Prpa, Andreas Ueland, Charlie Ostrem; Missael Rodriguez (Matteo Kidd 85'), Billy Hency, Dylan Borso (Michael Nesci 73')
Subs Not Used: Patrick Los, Romain Blake, Michael Flores, Jake Fuderer, Matteo Kidd, Sergio Oregel, Allan Rodriguez
SKC – Sebastian Cruz 5 (Josh Coan 8) 7'
SKC – Luas Rosa 4 (unassisted) 20'
CHI – Luka Prpa 6 (unassisted) 45+2'
CHI – Luka Prpa 7 (unassisted) 51'
CHI – Dylan Borso 1 (Missael Rodriguez 1) 58'
CHI – Henrique Gallina (yellow card; reckless offense) 47'
SKC – Nati Clarke (yellow card; reckless offense) 50'
SKC – Cam Duke (yellow card; reckless offense) 63'
CHI – Eric Leonard (yellow card; reckless offense) 87'
CHI – Charlie Ostrem (yellow card; reckless offense) 90+10
Shots on Goal
Referee: Olvin Oliva
Assistant Referee: James Norris
Assistant Referee: Justin Mack
Fourth Official: Drew Klemp