Sporting Kansas City II (2-3-1, 8 points) is back on the road this week, taking on Earthquakes II (3-2-0, 9 points) on Friday, May 5 at PayPal Park in San Jose, California in an MLS NEXT Pro Western Conference clash. The match will stream live on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV and kickoff is set for 9 p.m. CT.
Last season, SKC II and Quakes II split the series with both sides emerging victorious on the road. SKC II claimed a 2-1 road win last May while San Jose took three points away from the rematch later on in the inaugural MLS NEXT Pro season. Friday will be the first of two meetings between the two sides in 2023.
Head coach Benny Feilhaber has his squad looking to get back into the win column after suffering consecutive defeats. Before the back-to-back losses, SKC II earned a result in three straight matches including a 4-0 win away from home over Real Monarchs on Friday, April 14.
Despite the recent defeats, SKC II is firmly entrenched in the congested Western Conference playoff picture nearly a quarter of the way through the MLS NEXT Pro campaign. Sitting on eight points they are one point back of Earthquakes II in the six spot and just three points off Tacoma Defiance in third.
The 2023 SKC II squad has been known for scoring quickly and scoring first in matches. They have yet to concede first and have struck in the first 10 minutes in four consecutive matches. Leading that charge in the offensive third has been Pau Vidal and his five goals scored, tied for second most in the league. Vidal has found the back of the net in five straight matches and leads the team in goal contributions.
Playing alongside Vidal in the front three has been Sporting KC Academy product Sebastian Cruz who made his first team debut in Sporting KC's U.S. Open Cup Round Three win over Tulsa Athletic. Cruz teed up Vidal in the eighth minute against Houston, has one more assist to his name and scored his first professional goal against Real Monarchs in that Friday night match in April.
Playing alongside Cruz and Vidal has been winger Andrew Draper who leads SKC II with three assists. Newcomer Alenis Vargas has also earned minutes and picked up an assist in his first start with SKC II against FC Cincinnati 2.
The midfield has been comprised of Josh Coan, Ethan Bryant and Enzo Mauriz for a large part of SKC II's matches this season. Bryant earned his first-team debut against Tulsa Athletic while Coan has donned the captain's armband on four occasions this season. First-team loanees Ozzie Cisneros, Danny Flores and Jake Davis have been key contributors in the midfield as well.
The defensive third has seen a wide variety of players man the backline. Lucas Rosa has been a mainstay and the only SKC II player to start all six matches. He has one goal and one assists to his name in 2023, spending a large chunk of his time at the right-back position. SKC Academy product Jahon Rad has featured in all six matches this season, making four starts. The second center back role has been filled by former Academy teammate Mo Abualnadi, first-teamer Chris Rindov and former Canadian Premier League player Nassim Mekideche.
Friday’s hosts are led by head coach Dan DeGeer in his second year at the helm after taking over as the interim head coach in April 2022. On the pitch, they are headlined by Eduardo Blancas and Will Richmond. Blancas leads the team with two scores while Richmond has three goal contributions (1 goal, 2 assists). Goalkeeper Eric De La Cerda has three appearances and two clean sheets in 2023.
A Friday night fight between Sporting KC II and Earthquakes II looms as both teams look for three points early in the 2023 MLS NEXT Pro season. Fans can stream the match in its entirety on MLS Season Pass on the Apple TV App or follow @SportingKCII on Twitter for live updates.
MLS NEXT Pro: Match 7
Date: Friday, May 5, 2023
Kickoff: 9 p.m. CT
Location: PayPal Park (San Jose, California)
Watch: MLS SEASON PASS on Apple TV
Match-specific hashtag: #SJvSKC