Sporting Kansas City II (5-4-4, 21 points) picked up their first win in four matches but their sixth result in their last seven after knocking off Los Angeles Football Club 2 (1-7-4, 7 points) 2-0 at Titan Stadium in Fullerton, CA on Sunday night. Two first-half goals provided all the action in the match as Sporting KC II earned their second clean sheet of the campaign.
Goalkeeper Ethan Bandre and an identical back four from the team's 2-2 draw with Tacoma Defiance on Thursday, blanked LAFC2 for SKC II's second win in 2023 over the California club. Midfielders Josh Coan and Ethan Bryant found the back of the net and defender Nati Clarke picked up his first assist of the season.
Head coach Benny Feilhaber rolled out a squad with two first-team loanees three days removed from a match that featured seven of them. Bandre started in net with Clarke, Nassim Mekideche, Chris Rindov and Lucas Rosa on the backline. In the midfield, Bryant and Coan were joined by Vitor Dias in his first appearance since he picked up a knock at FC Cincinnati. The front three was comprised of Sebastian Cruz in a homecoming to his alma mater's stadium, SKC II's leading scorer Pau Vidal and first-teamer Ozzie Cisneros.
The first attack of the match went to Vidal when he broke through the Los Angeles back four but was unable to get a shot off due to the desperate, retreating defenders. The hosts took the first shot on target, causing Bandre to snare a low shot on his near post. LAFC2's keeper Abraham Romero had a rather busy hour and a half and got involved for the first time in the 10th minute, falling on a Cisnoers low cross into the six-yard box.
Yekeson Subah, who made his MLS debut at Children's Mercy Park on Saturday pushed a shot wide a minute after Romero's collection. In the 17th, SKC II had their first true chance to take the lead when Coan got hammered from behind on a Cruz cross into the area earning SKC II a penalty. The captain stepped up and sent Romero the wrong way, tucking his shot into the lower right corner of the goal for his second penalty goal of 2023.
Five minutes following the go-ahead goal, LAFC2 nearly equalized on a headed attempt that soared over the crossbar. In the 28th Vidal barely missed his eighth of the season on a Cruz cross into the area from the right side of the pitch. In the 33rd, a golden opportunity for LAFC2 came up empty when Dustin Aguirre ripped a shot from 12 yards out wide.
Bryant was taken down inside the 18 but another penalty was not awarded. The midfielder got another opportunity in the 37th when Clarke picked out his at the top of the box with a brilliant cross. Bryant deftly poked the ball into the far corner to cap off a spectacular team goal.
Halftime came as a relief for the home side after Vidal once again narrowly missed the net in the 41st following some nifty ball movement from Dias and Coan. The visitors took a 2-0 lead into the break and would hold that scoreline for the rest of the 90.
Not even a minute into the second half, Vidal fired another shot destined for goal. Romero made a strong save on the near-post before once more, in the 50th, Vidal was denied by the woodwork. A Los Angeles set piece whistled centimeters past Bandre's post as the hosts tried to trim the lead in the 53rd.
Clarke looked to contribute another goal after picking up an assist on the second score. The Sporting KC Academy product took a chance at the net from a tight angle, forcing Romero into yet another save which he deflected out for a corner. Hondurans Alenis Vargas and Keny Martinez entered in the 66th bringing an end to Vidal and Cruz's nights.
Bandre produced a magnificent double save in the 73rd after Mekideche was booked with a yellow card for a foul right at the top of the area. The Salina native saved the initial free kick off the foot of Matt Evans then somehow got a touch on the rebound to retain his clean sheet.
In the 75th, Dias and Cisnoers were swapped out for Mauriz and Draper as the visitors looked to see the match out. Just three minutes into his appearance Draper cracked one on target that was denied on the near post, then he sent a threatening cross which was snuffed out by Romero.
Vargas, who is tied with Draper for the team lead in assists, (three), nearly set up Martinez in the 86th but the shot was blocked in traffic. Mikey Lenis came on for captain Coan in the 89th as coach Feilhaber's final move of the night. Nothing was produced from either side in the form of offense as the 2-0 score that was set in the 37th held for the rest of the match.
SKC II will host North Texas SC at Rock Chalk Park on Sunday, June 25th. The highly anticipated Frontier Division matchup is also the first-ever Bark at the Park. Tickets are on sale now at SeatGeek.com and fans interested in bringing their four-legged friends to the match must fill out a waiver. The match will also stream live on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV as SKC II looks to continue this impressive form they have found these past two months.
2023 MLS NEXT Pro | Match 13
Titan Stadium | Fullerton, CA
Weather: 68 degrees and sunny
Sporting KC II
Los Angeles Football Club 2
Sporting Kansas City II: Ethan Bandre; Lucas Rosa, Chris Rindov, Nassim Mekideche, Lucas Rosa; Vitor Dias (Enzo Mauriz 75'), Josh Coan (Mikey Lenis 89'), Ethan Bryant; Sebastian Cruz (Alenis Vargas 66'), Pau Vidal (Keny Martinez 66'), Ozzie Cisneros (Andrew Draper 74')
Subs Not Used: Matthew Hudson, Cam Duke, Coby Jones, Jahon Rad
Los Angeles Football Club 2: Abraham Romero; Favian Vazquez, Christin Diaz (Decario Guerra 81'), Javen Romero, Lucas Bambino (Noah Dollenmayer 65'); Diego Rosales, Christopher Jamie (Tamir Ratovitz 45'), Jeremy Batioja; Yekeson Subah (Joshua Santiago 45'), Dustin Aguirre, Christian Torres (Matthew Evans 65')
Subs Not Used: Jassem Koleilat, Shakir Nixon, Adrian Wibowo
SKC – Josh Coan 2 (penalty kick) 17'
SKC – Ethan Bryant 3 (Nati Clarke 1) 37'
SKC – Josh Coan (yellow card; reckless offense) 56'
LAFC – Matthew Evans (yellow card; reckless offense) 68'
SKC – Nassim Mekideche (yellow card; reckless offense) 71'
LAFC – Jeremy Batioja (yellow card; reckless offense) 74'
SKC – Nati Clarke (yellow card; reckless offense) 83'
Shots on Goal
Referee: Karen Callado
Assistant Referee: Fernando Fierro
Assistant Referee: Melissa Beck
Fourth Official: Reyna Fonseca