Sebastian Cruz named MLS NEXT Pro Player of Matchweek 12 for his brace against MNUFC 2


Sporting Kansas City II forward Sebastian Cruz has been named the MLS NEXT Pro Player of Matchweek 12 after scoring twice in a 4-3 win at Minnesota United FC 2. Cruz came on in place of an injured Beto Avila in the 31st before striking in both first and second-half stoppage time for his second and third goals of the campaign.

The Sporting KC Academy product's first goal came in the fourth minute of additional time in the first half, bringing the match even at 2-2 right before the break. After Minnesota leveled in the 85th, Cruz stole all three points from the home side, finding the back of the net in the 91st minute following a brilliant ball from Pau Vidal and terrific bit of composure to round the keeper.

Cruz, an alumnus of Cal State Fullerton, signed with Sporting Kansas City II in March 2023 after impressing the SKC II coaching staff as a trialist in preseason. The California native moved to Kansas City in 2016 and joined the Sporting KC Academy playing at the U-16 through U-19 levels. In his rookie season with Sporting KC II, Cruz showed out, accumulating five goals and two assists in 19 MLS NEXT Pro starts. He earned a call-up to the first team for their 2023 US Open Cup third-round match with Tulsa Athletic and played 30 minutes in the 3-0 win.

This season, Cruz has three goals and four assists in just seven starts. His 59 minutes in Minnesota proved to be the difference maker as SKC II earned their seventh result in their last eight matches.

Avila started the scoring in the 10th minute, turning over Dom Mawing before dashing for goal and chipping the keeper. The home team responded with a pair of goals to take a one-goal advantage before Cruz evened the score. SKC II's leading scorer Kamron Habibullah sparked the attack with a clever through ball to Maouloune Goumballe. The rookie selflessly cut the ball back toward the middle of the area where Cruz crushed the ball into the back of the net with his left foot.

In the 66th, with the score still tied, Cruz got involved again, commencing a movement that led to the go-ahead-goal for Sporting. A poorly cleared corner was collected by Cruz in the attacking third and sent back to the top of the box for Cielo Tschanret. The newest SKC II signing then doinked the ball into the run of Academy player Alex Cunningham who notched his first professional goal with a one-time shot.

The score was squared in the 85th from a Kage Romanshyn Jr. penalty and a shootout seemed likely. That is until second-half stoppage time when Vidal cleverly played Cruz into the final third with a crafty diagonal ball. Seba controlled the pass, rounded the keeper and ripped his shot around the retreating defender and into the goal gifting SKC II three points and the win.

Led by head coach Benny Feilhaber, Sporting Kansas City II will be back at Rock Chalk Park this Friday, June 7, for the first time since May 12 when they host Houston Dynamo 2. The match will begin at 6 CT and tickets are on sale at