Sporting Kansas City II

SKC II Match Preview: Sporting KC II faces St. Louis CITY2 Sunday in first match at CITYPARK


Sporting Kansas City II (4-3-1, 14 points) will renew their rivalry with St. Louis CITY2 (1-4-3, 8 points) on Sunday at 5 p.m. CT in the pair's first meeting of 2023, and inaugural matchup at brand-new CITYPARK in downtown St. Louis, Missouri. The match will be available to stream via MLS Season Pass in the Apple TV app and fans can follow @SportingKCII on Twitter for live updates throughout the contest.

A year ago the two sides met on three occasions. Sporting KC II defeated CITY2 in kicks from the spot on MLS NEXT Pro Decision Day after two defeats to St. Louis at Rock Chalk Park earlier in the year. Sunday's match will come a day after the Sporting Kansas City and St. Louis CITY first teams meet as they open up their rivalry at 8:30 p.m. CT on Saturday. That match can be found on FS1 or on MLS Season Pass.

Fresh off consecutive 2-1 victories, SKC II is looking to keep the momentum going against a struggling CITY2 side that has just one win on the season. Sunday's hosts have drawn on the road at LAFC2 and suffered a 4-1 defeat at North Texas SC in the month of May.

Second-year head coach Benny Feilhaber has relied on leadership from more experienced players while getting production from many newcomers. Team captain Josh Coan, who has started five of seven appearances, has added a goal and two assists in 2023. The midfielder has emerged as a leader in the locker room and donned the captain's armband in all five of his starts. 

Joining Coan as a leader on the pitch has been Sporting KC Academy product, Jahon Rad. The 21-year-old center back has the third most minutes played on the team (536), the most accurate passes (399) and the highest passing accuracy (95.7 percent). Fellow defender and current SKC Academy player Nati Clarke has been a mainstay at left back this year. He has started four of SKC II's last five matches, playing the full 90 in each of those contests. 

Three former Sporting KC Academy products have continued to be indispensable for SKC II in 2023. Defender Mo Abualnadi, forward Sebastian Cruz and midfielder Enzo Mauriz all returned to Kansas City after successful college careers. The trio has been paramount to SKC II this season, playing a combined 18 matches, and 1252 minutes. Cruz has added one goal and two assists, Abualnadi has 273 completed passes, third most on the team, while Mauriz's 93.2 percent passing accuracy ranks second. 

Out of the newcomers, forward Pau Vidal has filled up the stat sheet more than anyone. His six goals in six starts lead SKC II and is tied for second most in MLS NEXT Pro. Helping him out in the front three has been winger Andrew Draper who has three assists, most on the team. Alenis Vargas who arrived at the club in early April has two assists to his name in just 106 minutes played. Vargas and Vidal combined for a stoppage-time score against LA Galaxy II last Sunday, propelling SKC II past LA.

Last year, St. Louis CITY2 made a run to the MLS NEXT Pro Cup Finals where they fell to Columbus Crew 2 at Field. In their second season as a club, they have started much slower, only claiming one win in their first eight matches. That win came at CITYPARK against Whitecaps FC 2 on April 30 thanks to an 84th-minute winner from Sergio Rivas.

They are led by head coach Bobby Murphy who served as an assistant coach for Union Omaha in USL League One. This is his first year as a head coach and his first season with St. Louis CITY. On the pitch, CITY2 has turned to forward John Klein and his four goals. Four other players have one goal for St. Louis. Former Sporting KC midfielder Wan Kuzain has been a member of STL CITY2 for two seasons and has seven stars in 2023.

After the rivalry between Sporting KC and St. Louis CITY makes its Major League Soccer debut, SKC II and STL CITY2 face off for a fourth time the following day. Fans can catch all the action on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV or follow @SportingKCII on Twitter for updates regarding the match.

Match Information:

MLS NEXT Pro: Match 9
Date: Sunday, May 21, 2023
Kickoff: 5 p.m. CT
Location: CITYPARK (St. Louis, Missouri)


Match-specific hashtag: #STLvSKC

Twitter: @SportingKCII
Instagram: @SportingKCII

Twitter: @STLCITY2
Instagram: @stlcity2