Sporting Kansas City II (2-1-1, 8 points) wraps up a two-match road trip this Sunday when they take on FC Cincinnati 2 (1-1-1, 4 points) at NKU Soccer Stadium in Newport, KY in the club's first-ever MLS NEXT Pro matchup against an Eastern Conference opponent. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. CT and the match can be live-streamed, for free, at MLSNEXTPro.com or on MLS's YouTube page.
In his second season as Sporting KC II head coach, Benny Feilhaber has his team out to a hot start. SKC II has won two straight and claimed a two-point draw against Austin FC II, following a last-minute loss to Rapids 2 to open the season. As a team, they have scored first in every match and taken a one-goal lead into halftime in three of their first four matches.
Last time out, Sporting KC II dominated Real Monarchs 4-0 at Zions Bank Stadium in Herriman, UT. Goals from Sebastian Cruz and Lucas Rosa were nominated for Goal of Matchday 4 with Rosa taking home the distinction. Pau Vidal found the back of the net for a third consecutive match, Ethan Bryant scored his first SKC II goal and Andrew Draper tallied two assists on the night. SKC II's back four held firm as Ethan Bandre and the defense earned the team their first clean sheet of 2023.
In Sporting KC II's first four matches, 25 different players have earned minutes with the team. Vidal has been leading the way in the goal-scoring category, netting three goals on the season. Five other players have scored once. Rosa's Goal of Matchday 4 was his first professional goal. The Brazilian right back has burst onto the scene for SKC II, starting all four matches and playing in all but 15 minutes of SKC II's first four matches.
He ranks second on the team in minutes behind Cruz's 246 minutes played. Cruz, a Sporting KC Academy product also notched his first pro goal against Real Monarchs after returning to his hometown club following a successful college career at Cal State Fullerton.
In the midfielder second-year MLS NEXT Pro player Josh Coan has shown his leadership skills, taking on the role of captain in three of the first four matches. He has one assist on the year, tied for second most on the team with Rosa and Cruz. Draper has a team-best three assists which places him second in the league.
In the defensive half, Academy product Jahon Rad has played in all four matches and worn the armband once. Current Sporting KC Academy player Nati Clarke earned his first start of the season against the Monarchs and contributed to the shutout. Former SKC Academy member Mo Abulanadi also made his first start of the year after spending a week with the Jordan U-20 Olympic team for a team camp to start the season.
SKC II's deep roster has only gotten deeper in the month of April. Honduran forwards Keny Martinez and Alenis Vargas signed loan deals from Costa Rican side Fútbol Consultants Desamparados. The two international players have been training with the team and are looking to make their debut. Also joining midfielder Vitor Dias. The former St. Louis CITY2 member accumulated six goals and three assists in 18 appearances a season ago and signed with SKC II in early April.
FC Cincinnati 2 started off year two in style, defeating TFC II at home in a 4-2 win. First-team loanee Arquimides Ordonez bagged a second half brace as the home side came from behind to take their first three points of the season. Since then they suffered one loss in regular time and one shootout loss. Ordonez has a team-high four goals and also has one assist. Defender Morgan Mashall leads Cincinnati in assists with two to his name.
FCC2 is led by head coach Tyrone Marshall, in his first full season at the helm. The former Jamaican national team regular is looking to improve on the team's 10th-place, Eastern Conference finish a season ago.
Sporting KC II and FC Cincinnati face off in their first-ever meeting on Sunday at 6 p.m. CT. Fans can stream the match for free at MLSNEXTPro.com or follow @SportingKCII on Twitter for live updates throughout the entirety of the contest. SKC II will return to Rock Chalk Park on Sunday, April 30 for a Frontier Division duel with Houston Dynamo 2 with tickets on sale at SeatGeek.com.
MLS NEXT Pro: Match 5
Date: Sunday, April 23, 2023
Kickoff: 6 p.m. CT
Location: NKU Soccer Stadium (Newport, KY)
Match-specific hashtag: #CINvSKC