Sporting Kansas City II (3-3-1, 11 points) will host LA Galaxy II (1-5-1, 5 points) at Rock Chalk Park on Sunday, May 14 in the pairing's first meeting since 2021. Kickoff is set for 5 p.m. CT, tickets are on sale at SeatGeek.com for just $10 and kids aged 12 and under receive free admission.
The hosts, Sporting KC II enter Sunday fresh off a road win over California side, Earthquakes II, while Galaxy II is looking to bounce back from a 5-0 defeat against Rapids 2 at home. SKC II currently sits seventh in the Western Conference, two points above the playoff line. LA finds themselves in 12th in the West in their first season in MLS NEXT Pro.
Led by head coach Benny Feilhaber, SKC II have found success early in the 2023 MLS NEXT Pro regular season. A quarter in and the group is establishing themselves as a formidable offensive side with goal scorers scattered across the field. In all seven matches this season, SKC II have struck first, scoring in the first 10 minutes of gameplay in four matches as well.
Heading up the offensive charge has been forward Pau Vidal. The Spaniard's five goals on the season is tied for third-most in MLS NEXT Pro. Linking up with him in the front three is winger Andrew Draper who owns four goal contributions on the year (1 goal, 3 assists). Draper bagged his first SKC II goal in San Jose, opening the scoring midway through the first half.
Fellow forward Sebastian Cruz has been a key figure in the front three as well, tallying one goal and two assists in his first professional season. The Sporting KC Academy product was called up to the first team on short-term loans twice, making his debut in a 3-0 win over Tulsa Athletic in the Open Cup. Joining Cruz on those short-term loans was midfielder, Ethan Bryant. The 2022 USL League One Young Player of the Year made two appearances in Open Cup play for Sporting KC, helping them advance past Tulsa Athletic before suffering a 1-0 defeat at Houston Dynamo on Wednesday night.
The middle third of the pitch has also seen key minutes earned by first-team loanees Ozzie Cisneros and Danny Flores. Cisneros netted the match-winner against LAFC2 earlier in the season for his first goal of the year. Team captain Josh Coan is also a staple of the midfield, providing two assists and a goal of his own in almost 400 minutes played.
On the backline, 10 different players have slotted into the back four. Right back Lucas Rosa is the lone SKC II player to start every match. His first professional goal earned Goal of Matchday 4 honors, as his half-volley helped lift SKC II past Real Monarchs. Centerback Nassim Mekideche missed some time due to injury but has since returned. He netted SKC II's first goal of 2023, a headed attempt off a setpiece against Rapids 2.
Centerbacks Jahon Rad, Mo Abualnadi and first-teamer Chris Rindov have been the other three main center backs for coach Feilhaber's side. Rindov earned his first Sporting KC start in Wednesday's Open Cup match and provided 275 minutes for SKC II.
LA Galaxy II have suffered consecutive defeats after picking up back-to-back results. Sunday’s visitors are led by Marcelo Sarvas as the coach guides the team through their inaugural season in MLS NEXT Pro in his first full year at the helm.
Their top scorer is Aaron Bibout who has four of the team’s seven goals. Bibout also leads the team with one assist. Goalkeeper Simon Jillson ranks second in the league with 26 saves but has conceded 13 goals, tied for most in the league, in six matches played.
Sunday, SKC II and Galaxy II meet again. The two sides faced off in USL Championship from 2016-2018 and then locked horns again in 2021 before Sporting KC II became one of MLS NEXT Pro's founding members. Tickets are on sale at SeatGeek.com and fans can catch all the action for free at MLSNEXTPro.com or on the MLS YouTube channel.
MLS NEXT Pro: Match 8
Date: Sunday, May 12, 2023
Kickoff: 5 p.m. CT
Location: Rock Chalk Park (Lawrence, Kansas)
Match-specific hashtag: #SKCvLA