Sporting Kansas City II

SKC II Match Preview: Sporting KC II travels to the Pacific Northwest for matchup with Tacoma Defiance


Sporting Kansas City II (6-5-4, 24 points) will travel to the Evergreen State for their lone meeting with the Tacoma Defiance (7-7-1, 23 points) in the 2024 MLS NEXT Pro regular season on Sunday night. Kickoff is set for 9 p.m. CT as two teams separated by just one point face off at Starfire Sports Complex.

The match can be streamed for free at or on the MLS YouTube channel. Last year the two sides faced each other twice, going to kicks from the spot at Rock Chalk Park where SKC II claimed the extra point. In the rematch at Starfire, Tacoma claimed a 3-1 win in front of their home fans.

In the group's last match, SKC II snapped a two-game losing skid with a 2-2 draw and 5-3 shootout win against Austin FC II. Forward Beto Avila tallied his third brace of 2024 and Sebastian Cruz assisted on both goals before all five kick takers sank their shootout attempts.

Avila paces SKC II with eight goals, tied for second in MLS NEXT Pro, and has added two assists in his first season with the club. In two career appearances against Tacoma, Avila has scored twice. Cruz, a Sporting KC Academy product and Cal State Fullerton alum, leads the league with eight assists and is one off the single-season team record set by Josh Coan a year ago.

Midfielder and forward Kamron Habibullah has the most goal contributions for SKC II, bagging seven goals and five assists in half a season. Against the Defiance, the Canadian international has three appearances, one goal and two assists.

Forward Maoloune Goumballe has been a mainstay for head coach Benny Feilhaber in his rookie campaign after a five-year career at Indiana University. Goumballe has four goals and two assists in his first pro season and sparked the attacks that led to both goals against Austin a week ago. Fellow rookie Jake Swallen has played in 14 of SKC II's 15 matches this season. Midfielder Ethan Bryant is the only player on Feilhaber's team to play in all 15 contests, scoring twice and adding three assists.

The Sporting Kansas City Academy has played an increased role in the Sporting KC II season in 2024. Amateur players Johann Ortiz and Ian James have each featured in five matches. Ortiz scored his first professional goal against Houston Dynamo 2 on June 7. James, a 16-year-old center back was selected for the 2024 MLS NEXT All-Star Game presented by All-State after a largely successful campaign with the U-17s in the 2023-24 MLS NEXT season.

Tacoma comes into this weekend's battle with a pair of wins in their last two matches. They defeated Real Monarchs in a Wednesday night showdown 3-0 before knocking off Timbers2 1-0 in a Cascadian clash last Sunday. Their back-to-back clean sheets earned them Team of the Matchweek honors and punctuated the end to three straight losses.

First-year head coach Herve Diese has his team at 23 points 15 matches into the 2024 season. Faysal Bettache leads them on the field with six goals and three assists. The former Queens Park Rangers midfielder is in his first season with Tacoma Defiance after spending 2023 with St. Louis CITY2.

Match Information:

MLS NEXT Pro: Match 16
Date: Sunday, July 7, 2024
Kickoff: 9 p.m. CT
Location: Starfire Sports Complex


Match-specific hashtag: #TACvSKC

Twitter: @TACDefiance
Instagram: @TACDefiance