Sporting Kansas City II's 2023 preseason presented by Central Bank continued Thursday morning with a friendly against MLS NEXT Pro opposition North Texas SC at Toyota Soccer Center in Frisco, TX. The Texas side claimed a 1-0 victory as Sporting KC II concluded their five-day, three-match road trip.
Head coach Benny Feilhaber rolled out a starting eleven consisting of Ethan Bandre, Lucas Rosa, Jahon Rad, Nassim Mekediche and Diedie Traore manning the defensive third. Enzo Mauriz was split out by Josh Coan and Danny Flores in the midfield while Sebastian Cruz, Bakary Bagayoko and Amadou Traore operated in the final third.
North Texas netted their first shot of the contest in the sixth minute but had the goal called back due to an offside call. The match slowed its pace as both teams grew into the 90-minute friendly. SKC II's first crack at the goal came in the 20th after Rosa turned North Texas over near the top of the box. The wingback slipped Coan into the 18 where the midfielder fired a shot just high of the target.
With the 30th minute coming around Feilhaber made two swaps bringing on Ethan Bryant and Andrew Draper for Flores and Amadou Traore. Neither side was able to generate any more dangerous attacks as the halftime whistle came.
At the start of the second period, Carlito Saylon entered the match for Bandre. Sporting launched the initial attacking movements of the second, taking less than five minutes to put North Texas on their heels. The first attempt saw Draper chop a shot on target after being played through by Coan. His shot was cleared off the line by a retreating defender. Moments later another turnover by NTX resulted in a Bryant shot on target that was snagged by the diving keeper.
The defense got involved a few ticks following those motions when Mekediche cleared a dangerous-looking cross over the endline at the near post. This proved to be the final play for a large portion of the starters as Mikey Lenis, Jacob Bartlett, Mo Abualnadi, Nati Clarke, Cielo Tschantret, Matthew Fisher, Ozzie Cisneros and Pau Vidal came on for Rosa, Rad, Mekediche, Diedie Traore, Mauriz, Coan, Cruz and Bagayoko.
Seven minutes following the subs North Texas grabbed the lead, converting a chance from close range. The remaining 23 minutes saw SKC II desperately try to equalize with numerous opportunities barely being turned aside. Just two minutes after North Texas snagged the lead, Cisneros sent a curling effort toward the goal which took a deflection for an SKC II corner. That corner was defended instantly but an ensuing corner from Bryant connected with Fisher, was redirected at the goal and drifted inches past on the back post.
Vidal then had back-to-back chances denied. Firstly, Lenis put an inch-perfect cross into the area where the imposing forward headed the ball down and on goal with authority. The keeper was positioned well enough to somehow make a kick save to keep SKC II blanked. A minute later the persistent forward whipped a shot from close range only for the last defender to get a touch on the shot.
Saylon made a save in the middle of his goal and was able to fall on the loose ball in the 89th in one of the final attacks for either side. North Texas packed in their defense and saw out the remainder of the contest, taking the 1-0 win.
SKC II will now head back to Kansas City for a week of training before facing UMKC at Swope Soccer Village on Saturday, March 18 in the club's final preseason match. For updates throughout preseason and the regular season, follow @SportingKCII on Twitter.
Sporting KC II Lineup
SKC: Ethan Bandre (Carlito Saylon 46'); Lucas Rosa (Mikey Lenis 60'), Jahon Rad (Jacob Bartlett 60'), Nassim Mekediche (Mo Abualnadi 60'), Diedie Traore (Nati Clarke 60'); Enzo Mauriz (Cielo Tschantret 60'), Josh Coan (Matthew Fisher 60'), Danny Flores (Ethan Bryant 30'); Sebastian Cruz (Ozzie Cisneros 60'), Bakary Bagayoko (Pau Vidal 60'), Amadou Traore (Andrew Draper 30')