Sporting Kansas City II (12-7-5, 44 points) will look to lock up a spot in the 2023 MLS NEXT Pro Playoffs when they take on LA Galaxy II (5-13-6, 25 points) at Dignity Health Sports Park on Sunday, Sept. 3. The match will begin at 9 p.m. CT with live coverage available on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV and updates provided by @SportingKCII on Twitter.
With a win, Sporting KC II will lock up a spot in the postseason with three matches still to play. It would be the first playoff appearance for SKC II since the Swope Park Rangers made the 2018 USL Championship playoffs where they bowed out in the Conference Semifinals after consecutive USL Cup Finals appearances.
Back in May, SKC II and LA Galaxy II met for the first time since 2021, playing in one of the most exciting MLS NEXT Pro matches at Rock Chalk Park this season. After falling behind just two minutes into the contest, first-team loanee Danny Flores scored his first goal for the club in the 72nd to even the scoring. Pau Vidal would score the match-winner in stoppage time on an assist from Alenis Vargas to give SKC II the comeback victory.
Vargas and Vidal have continued to contribute over the past three months. Vidal leads the team in goals scored with 10 while Vargas' six assists pace the club along with his 11 goal contributions. The front three has also seen goals from SKC Academy product Sebastian Cruz and Homegrown Loanee Ozzie Cisneros. Cruz went on a tear, scoring in three straight matches for SKC II before picking up a knock and missing a few matches. Cisneros has three goals and two assists and ranks second on the team in matches played with 23.
Leading the charge in the matches played category has been right back Lucas Rosa. The Brazilian has more appearances (24), starts (20) and minutes played (1893) than any other SKC II players and leads all defenders on the team in both goals and assists with three each. Rosa recently received his second MLS NEXT Pro Goal of the Matchday title for his match-leveling strike against Austin FC II.
Rosa has been joined on the backline by Nassim Mekideche, Chris Rindov and Nati Clarke more than any other defenders. Clarke has been the team's most consistent leftback, featuring in 16 matches and tallying two assists. Alex Cunningham and Cielo Tschantret are two more Academy players earning valuable minutes in recent contests. Cunningham made his first pro start against Austin, and Tschantret's match-winning, goal-scoring performance earned him MLS NEXT Rising Star of Matchday 24 honors.
In the midfield team captain Josh Coan and Ethan Bryant have been staples in the attacking third. The tandem have bagged five goals each and Coan has added four assists. Bryant has added three assists to the SKC II goal tally.
As a team, Sporting KC II has one of the more potent offenses, striking 50 times in 2023, fourth most in MLS NEXT Pro and second most in the West. In their last match, their offensive prowess was on display, sinking Austin FC II 2-1 on the road. ATX II entered the match with just one home defeat all season and a league-best 14 goals conceded. SKC II's attack came to life in the second half as the group rallied to score twice and hand Austin their second home defeat.
LA Galaxy enters Sunday's match with a win in hand as well after they took down Dynamo Dos 4-0 away from home. Los Dos's leading scorer Aaron Bibout bagged a brace giving him 12 goals on the season, tied for the fifth most in the league. Adrian Gonzalez added an assist, giving him six on the campaign, tied for sixth in MLS NEXT Pro. Los Dos will also be fighting for their playoff lives as they must win to avoid elimination. The Marcelo Sarvas-led team has earned results in their last two matches as they look to avoid the basement of the West.
Following the road match in Tinsel Town, SKC II will return to Swope Soccer Village and Children's Mercy Victory Field for a matchup with Chicago Fire II on Sunday, Sept. 10. Tickets are on sale at SeatGeek.com as Sporting KC II looks to bring the momentum from Rock Chalk Park back to the place where it all began.
MLS NEXT Pro: Match 25
Date: Sunday, September 3, 2023
Kickoff: 9:00 p.m. CT
Location: Dignity Health Sports Park
Watch: MLS Season Pass on Apple TV
Match-specific hashtag: #LAvSKC