SKC II Preseason Recap: Sporting KC II falls 3-2 against Union Omaha in first preseason friendly 


Sporting Kansas City II launched the 2023 preseason presented by Central Bank on Saturday afternoon at Swope Soccer Village with a friendly against USL League One side Union Omaha. An action-packed first half produced four goals while a more tame second half saw Omaha pull out to a 3-2 lead early and hang on for dear life until the final whistle. 

Head coach Benny Feilhaber and assistant coach Ike Opara rotated the squad on two occasions, giving almost everyone 30 minutes of match time. The Sporting KC Academy was well represented in all three periods of the contest with 18 Academy products and current players earning valuable minutes. Headlining the first group was a trio of SKC II returnees, Jahon Rad, Josh Coan and Bakary Bagayoko.

Defender and SKC Academy player Nati Clarke, who joined SKC II for a handful of matches a year prior, made his presence known early in his 30 minutes. The leftback tracked back to shutdown an Omaha breakaway, sliding in at the last second and cleanly dispossessing his man of the ball inside the box. 

Two of the three returnees combined impressively for the first score of the match in the 12th minute when Rad slipped Bagayoko behind the Union Omaha defensive front. The forward galloped onto the ball, settled his feet and burned the keeper with a clinical chip over his head and under the bar. 

Omaha went back on the attack immediately following the goal looking to even the score. Rad showed his defensive prowess following the assist, denying a shot attempt from close range by throwing his body in front of the shot. The visitors from Nebraska would find the leveler 10 minutes after Bagayoko gave SKC II the lead, scoring off a cross that flew along the SKC II goal line.


At the half-hour mark of the match, SKC II made their first of two mass substitutions, featuring newcomers Yeison Meija and Amadou Traore. The flow of the game opened up in the final 15 minutes of the first half with end-to-end action. Sebastian Cruz fired SKC II back out in front moments after coming on. Traore rolled a pass along the top of the box which trickled through to Cruz. The SKC Acadmey product ripped a shot over the keeper's outstretched arms and into the back of the net. 

Not two minutes later, Omaha pulled even and the contest went to the break tied. With just a short, five-minute halftime, Omaha subbed all 10 field players off while Feilhaber brought on Ethan Bandre and Nassim Mekideche. Omaha came out fast, earning a corner early in the half that would connect with the target at the penalty spot. The redirected header thudded over the goal and away from danger. The following attack proved more threatening with Omaha grabbing a one-goal advantage.


The second SKC II groups day came to a close at the hour mark and a bevy of Sporting KC Acadmey players entered the field. Midway through the final group's time, Bandre made a super-save, diving to his left to smack a shot wide of the mark at full extension. Midfielder Luis Cruz had moments of brilliance in his time on the pitch, one of which came in the final ticks of the day. Cruz delivered a delectable ball to fellow Academy player Zahir Dyke in a perfect position. The forward had his shot rushed by late-arriving defenders and was unable to get it on target.


The final whistle blew with Union Omaha clinging to the 3-2 scoreline. SKC II's preseason is only just beginning as four more matches await the group ahead of the second MLS NEXT Pro season. After a week of training the squad will travel to Tulsa and Dallas for three more preseason matches before returning to Swope Soccer Village to close out the preseason. Fans can follow @SportingKCII on Twitter for updates throughout the entire season. 

Sporting KC II Lineups

First 30: Carlito Saylon; Lucas Rosa, Jahon Rad, Jacob Bartlett, Nati Clarke; Enzo Mauriz, Ethan Bryant, Josh Coan; Andrew Draper, Bakary Bagayoko, Kai Auvray

Second 30: Carlito Saylon (Ethan Bandre 45'); Mikey Lenis, Matthew Fisher, Jacob Bartlett (Nassim Mekediche 45'), Coby Jones; Cielo Tschantret, Roman Knox, Sebastian Cruz; Yeison Meija, Pau Vidal, Amadou Traore

Third 30: Ethan Bandre; Alex Cunningham, Ryan Wagner, Nassim Mekediche, Koby Carr; Edgar Bazan, Luis Cruz, Daniel Espeleta; Trajan Wormington, Tarek Mahmoud Eldaly, Zahir Dyke