Sporting Kansas City II's home opener is set for Sunday, April 2, 2023, against Austin FC II at 3 p.m. CT at Rock Chalk Park in Lawrence, KS. Sporting KC II's first home match of 2023 also marks the first meeting with ATX II as they enter MLS NEXT Pro as one of seven new teams to join the league in 2023.
Head coach Benny Feilhaber and SKC II suffered a 2-1 setback in the season opener at Rapids 2 last Sunday. Nassim Mekideche scored the club's first goal of the season in the 11th minute, however, two Colorado scores, including a 91st-minute go-ahead finish by Blake Malone, sunk SKC II. With 27 matches to go in the extended MLS NEXT Pro season, Feilhaber, assistant coach Ike Opara and the entire SKC II squad will look to notch their first win on Sunday.
A starting XI featuring one Sporting KC first-team loanee, Kendall McIntosh took the pitch at DICK'S Sporting Goods Park last Sunday. McIntosh went on to make five saves including an impressive double stop late in the match where he dove to block the initial attempt and then smacked a loose ball away from an oncoming attacker.
Former Sporting KC Academy players Sebastian Cruz and Enzo Mauriz started with Cruz returning to SKC II after playing in nine matches as a member of the Academy. Mauriz made his professional debut Sunday along with defender Lucas Rosa. Joining Cruz, Rosa and Mauriz were four other starting XI players making their debut for the club.
Amongst the debutants was winger Amadou Traore who typically plays on the left but found success on the right flank. In one of the best-looking attacks of the night, the forward cut up a pair of defenders before firing a shot on target that was denied by the keeper.
Team captain Josh Coan, returning for his second season had a terrific match, providing the assist to Mekideche's goal. Coan ripped six shots with one being a chipped effort from long range that was blocked in a terrific save by a backpedaling Abraham Rodriguez.
In their inaugural match as a club, Austin FC II faced Houston Dynamo 2 at home, defeating Dynamo Dos 2-1 thanks to a second-half brace from Valentin Noel. The forward's two-goal effort in 20 minutes were the first two goals in ATX II history and gave the newcomers a win over a 2022 MLS NEXT Pro playoff side in Houston.
Head coach Brett Uttley will now take his team on the road for the first time, bringing the Green and Verde to Rock Chalk Park on Sunday. Tickets are still available for purchase for SKC II's home opener and all 2023 MLS NEXT Pro matches. Sporting KC Season Ticket Members can claim free tickets to SKC II matches by reaching out to their representative.
The match can be streamed on MLS Season Pass on the Apple TV app and fans can follow all the action by following @SportingKCII on Twitter.
MLS NEXT Pro: Match 2
Date: Sunday, April 2, 2023
Kickoff: 3 p.m. CT
Location: Rock Chalk Park (Lawrence, KS)
Match-specific hashtag:r #SKCvATX