Sporting KC II (4-5-2, 14 points) is back on the road for the first time since May 21, for a matchup with Houston Dynamo 2 at PNC Stadium on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. CT. As always, the match can be streamed for free on MLSNEXTPro.com as SKC II looks to get back to their winning ways against the second-place team in the Frontier Division.
Coming off four straight results, head coach Benny Feilhaber and SKC II suffered a setback, slipping 2-1 at home to MNUFC 2 last Saturday. Forward Rauf Salifu netted his first MLS NEXT Pro goal, but two quick Minnesota goals could not be overcome by the resilient SKC II side that has picked up eight points from a losing position this season.
Two SKC II players started their 11th consecutive match last Saturday, captain Collin Fernandez and SKC II veteran Jahon Rad. Fernandez and Rad rank third and fourth, respectively, in the league in minutes played. Fernandez has also netted one goal and assisted on three goals this season.
The offensive firepower this year has come from the wings as Mataeo Bunbury and Julian Vazquez pace the team with five goal contributions. Bunbury (four goals, one assist) and Vazquez (two goals, three assists) have been perfect fits in Feilhaber's puzzle, providing lethal services, dangerous runs and terrific foot skills on the outside. The number nine spot has been occupied by Guy Michaeli in two straight matches. The Sporting KC Academy player scored his first professional goal against Earthquakes II after coming on as a halftime sub.
The midfield has been an area of rotation for Feilhaber. Fernandez has found his spot, Cade Thomson has settled in nicely, Curtez Kellman provides productivity and multiple first-team loanees earn minutes as well. Thomson has assisted on two goals this season. His partnering with Fernandez on set pieces gives opponents an added sense of nervousness during restarts.
The SKC II backline is another area of interest for SKC II. J. Rad has solidified his spot, pairing nicely with 2022 MLS SuperDraft selection Esai Easley at the centerback position. Sporting KC Academy product Coby Jones has been brilliant at outside back, joined by fellow academy kid Mikey Lenis. Cole McLagan and Spencer Glass have also been key figures on the backline with McLagan even netting the match-winner against Real Monarchs a month ago.
Looking to the dangerous Dynamo Dos, Saturday's hosts started the inaugural MLS NEXT Pro campaign as the hottest team in the league. They won their first five matches convincingly, even knocking off SKC II thanks to a hat trick from Robert Avila, the clubs leading scorer with five goals. Since that April evening, Houston has slowed down, losing to Tacoma Defiance and St Louis City2 on the road.
Saturday afternoon, two Frontier Division teams take the field on opposite sides of each other at PNC Stadium. SKC II is looking to pick up another key road result, their third of the season, while Houston is looking to remain undefeated at home. All the action begins at 4:30 p.m. CT and can be found, for free, at MLSNEXTPro.com.
MLS NEXT Pro: Match 12
Date: Saturday, June 11
Kickoff: 4:30 p.m. CT
Location: PNC Stadium (Houston, Texas)
Live Stream: mlsnextpro.com
Sporting Kansas City II: 4-5-1, 14 points
Houston Dynamo 2: 7-2-1, 22 points
Match-specific hashtag: #HOUvSKC