A revamped Sporting Kansas City II returns to MLS NEXT Pro for the 2023 season and opens the campaign up with a road match against Colorado Rapids 2 at DICK'S Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colorado on Sunday. The first match of the season kicks off at 8 p.m. CT and can be watched on Apple TV through MLS Season Pass.
In the inaugural MLS NEXT Pro season, Sporting KC II and Rapids 2 faced off on three occasions including the opening match of 2022, in which Colorado took home an extra point with a win in penalty kicks. SKC II exacted revenge later in the season, winning the following meeting 2-0 before rolling over Rapids 2, 5-0 in SKC II's home finale.
HIGHLIGHTS: Sporting KC II vs. Colorado Rapids 2 | September 05, 2022
Head coach Benny Feilhaber and assistant coach Ike Opara enter year two after helping guide SKC II through the first year of MLS NEXT Pro. A handful of key players from 2022 return for another year under coach Feilhaber while a fresh set of talented MLS NEXT Pro contracted players gear up for their first year in the club.
Forward Bakary Bagayoko is back for his second season after wrapping up the previous year on a tear, scoring four goals in as many matches to close out the season. Re-entering the midfield is 25-year-old Josh Coan. who experienced an uptick in productivity toward the end of the season. Coan scored an impressive goal in the match against Rapids 2 last September and ranked second on the team in assists (three) for the season. On the defensive side, Sporting KC Academy product Jahon Rad is back for another season after ranking second on the team in starts (19), matches played (21) and minutes played (1574) a season ago.
That trio of returnees are joined by a bevy of newcomers from across the globe. Two Parisians, Amadou Traore and Diedie Traore have shown out in preseason. With Amadou in the front three and Diedie on the back four, the two Traores produced countless chances with Amadou scoring twice.
Three Sporting KC Academy products have returned to Kansas City after successful stints in college as well. Mo Abualnadi, Sebastian Cruz and Enzo Mauriz are all back where it all began and are prepared for their first seasons as professionals. The SKC II roster will be bolstered throughout the season with talented up-and-coming SKC Academy players as well as first-team loanees getting valuable minutes and experience.
Sunday's opponent, Rapids 2, is once again led by head coach Erik Bushey and brought back Yosuke Hanya, who put up four goals and three assists last season. They also acquired 2022 MLS NEXT Pro best XI midfielder Marlon Vargas from Tacoma Defiance after an impressive, 13-goal season with the Pacific Division winners.
Another year of exhilarating SKC II action is on the way. Following Sunday's match at Colorado, SKC II will return to Rock Chalk Park for the 2023 home opener against newcomers Austin FC II. Fans can watch SKC II take on the Rapids for free on the Apple TV app through MLS Season Pass. For live updates throughout the contest, follow @SportingKCII on Twitter.
MLS NEXT Pro: Match 1
Date: Sunday, March 26, 2023
Kickoff: 8 p.m. CT
Location: Ralph Korte Stadium (Edwardsville, IL)
Match-specific hashtag:r #COLvSKC