Sporting Kansas City II (13-8-5, 44 points) will play their final regular season road match of 2023 on Sunday when they take on MNUFC2 (9-9-8, 40 points) at National Sports Center in Blaine, Minnesota. The match is set for 5 p.m. CT and will be streamed live on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV.
With a playoff spot locked up, Sporting KC II will look to jump in the standings with two matches still to play. Sitting in fourth in the Western Conference, two points behind Austin FC II in third, and five points behind Tacoma Defiance in second, SKC II can still climb into a top-three finish. This would allow them to select their first-round opponent and guarantee a first-round, home playoff match.
They will play the first of their final two matches against a side they took down 1-0 at Rock Chalk Park on August 19 in Minnesota before hosting St. Louis CITY2 at Children's Mercy Victory Field on MLS NEXT Pro Decision Day on Sept. 24. In the one goal match between SKC II and MNUFC2, Alenis Vargas netted the match winner in the 79th after being played into the attacking third by Ethan Bryant. Goalkeeper and first-team loanee John Pulskamp kept his first clean sheet of the season as well, blanking the Loons' second team.
Vargas' match-winner against Minnesota gave him six goals on the season to go along with his five assists. His 11 goal contributions are tied for the third most on the team and have played a large role in SKC II's potent attack which has tallied 57 goals.
Those 57 finishes rank second in the Western Conference and are tied for the second most in the entire league. Nobody has added more to that tally than forward Pau Vidal. The Spanish striker has 11 goals on the season, four more than Bryant's seven in the second spot.
The 22-year-old Bryant has partnered well with team captain Josh Coan in the midfield this season with the duo gathering a combined 24 goal contributions. Coan's 14 contributions (6g, 8a) lead the team and his eight assists are a single-season record for a Sporting Kansas City second team. He picked up the record-setting assist last Sunday, teeing up Sebastian Cruz's fifth tally of 2023.
Defender Lucas Rosa also found the back of the net last Sunday. The rightback's fourth goal of the season also took home Goal of Matchday 26 honors, Rosa's third time winning Goal of the Matchday this season. The Brazilian is both the only player on SKC II to feature in every match and surpass the 2,000-minute mark this season.
Pulskamp has featured in net for SKC II on seven occasions including three of the team's last four times out. He boasts an impressive 4-1-2 record with his lone loss coming in the previous match against Chicago Fire FC II. Ethan Bandre has been the most frequent netminder, starting 14 matches and posting a 7-4-3 record.
While Sporting KC II has claimed a postseason berth, MNUFC2 is still looking to secure their spot. They need to take all three points from SKC II and have Earthquakes II lose in regulation at Whitecaps FC 2 to avoid a stressful Decions Day a week from Sunday.
They are led by second-year head coach Cameron Knowles and have the fifth most goals scored in the West, but the fourth most goals conceded. They come into Sunday with three results, all being shootout victories, in their last five matches. Their last win came on the road against LAFC2 on Aug. 9.
Their top scorer this year has been forward Kameron Lacey and his 10 finishes. He has also added two assists while fellow forward Diogo Pacheco paces the team with four set-ups. Pacheco also has eight goals, tying him with Lacey for the MNUFC2 goal contributions lead.
Sporting KC II will look to regain some momentum heading into the playoffs after suffering a 3-2 home defeat to Fire II. The group has only lost back-to-back matches twice in 2023 and was on a four-match win streak before the home loss.
MLS NEXT Pro: Match 27
Date: Sunday, September 17, 2023
Kickoff: 5:00 p.m. CT
Location: National Sports Center (Blaine, MN)
Watch: MLS Season Pass on Apple TV
Match-specific hashtag: #MINvSKC