As the 2020 Major League Soccer (MLS) season comes to an end, it seemed right to shine some light on the future of the first team, by looking at the second team — Sporting Kansas City II. The United Soccer League (USL) Championship season came to an end and then never really concluded after USL Cup 2020 was cancelled.
It’s easy among all the weirdness that is 2020, to not have made time for Sporting KC II, especially with an incredibly congested MLS season going on concurrently. As a part of our ongoing series highlighting SKC II, it’s time to take a statistical look at how the season played out.
Home Games: 2
Road Games: 14
It’s easy to look at that schedule and think that it was a bad year. But as our own Nathan Dunn pointed out, there were a lot of factors at play. An unreasonable road schedule. A tough group that SKC II was placed in against three strong teams in Louisville City FC (USL Cup three straight years, including two wins), Indy Eleven and the now defunct Saint Louis FC. Those were 12 of their 16 total games played. If only they could have been placed in Group D where they went 2-0-0 against the two Oklahoma teams.
2020 SKC II Goal Scorers
A quick look at the above chart shows goals were hard to come by. Wilson Harris averaged a goal every other game this season and was the runaway leader with eight. The drop off was severe to second place with Sporting KC loanee Tyler Freeman getting two along with center back (you read that right) Danny Barbir getting two of his own. No one else scored more than once (though Bailey Sparks played a mere 20 minutes and scored an electrifying goal).
Wilson Harris was rewarded by signing a first team contract after the USL season ended, so SKC fans will likely start to know his name much better.
2020 SKC II Assist Leaders
Limited goals also meant limited assists. MLS veteran and former Colorado Rapids midfielder, Dillon Serna, tied for the team lead in assists despite playing all of his 2020 minutes at left back. If he played right back, he may have gotten a first team deal for depth after Graham Zusi went down with a season ending injury.
Tying him was winger Fredlin ‘Fredinho’ Mompremier, who joined SKC II from the Tulsa Roughnecks (now FC Tulsa) where he played in 2019. Coming in third was Petar Cuic, a center back turned defensive midfielder who was on loan from Dinamo Zagreb II in Croatia.
First Team Loanees
It was a weird year for players coming to SKC II on loan, primarily due to COVID-19. In the first game of the year, before everything shut down, the team had eight players (Richard Sanchez, Jaylin Lindsey, Graham Smith, Amadou Dia, Gianluca Busio, Felipe Hernandez, John Pulskamp and Wan Kuzain) on loan from the first team. That number wouldn’t exceed two for any individual game beyond that first game.
Impacted the most was probably Wan Kuzain Wan Kamal who had a single, 19-minute, substitute appearance for SKC II in the opener and he never saw more than the bench for the first team for the rest of the year. Sporting KC holds a 2021 option on Kuzain, though I’m inclined to believe his spot may end up going to an SKC Academy player like Osvaldo Cisneros, Nati Clarke or Gage Akalu (based on nothing but my opinion and no inside information).
Second most impacted has to be goalkeeper John Pulskamp. He signed a first team deal early in 2020 but spent much of the year as the 3rd keeper on the first team before taking over the backup role from Richard Sanchez. Despite that, he hasn’t made his MLS debut and he could have benefited from lots of USL starts. If not for his first team deal, he probably splits the starting job with Brooks Thompson in 2020 with SKC II.
Here is a full list of players, games played (GP), games started (GS) and minutes from the first team (excluding Harris who joined SKC after the USL season).
Potential Future First Team Players
I could list the whole team here, but instead lets highlight those players who were consistently on the field. There are plenty of other SKC Academy players who got sporadic minutes, but not enough to know how well we should rate them. First, the table.
Future First Teamers?
There is some real solid youth on that list, from Jake Davis (18) to Brooks Thompson (18) and Kaveh Rad (19).
Something that’s hard to see on the stat sheet is the production of a player like Jake Davis. He played in all but one game but was second on the team in minutes (behind CB Kaveh Rad). He is a Roger Espinoza type who’s gas tank never runs empty. He played all those minutes despite being in what might be the most demanding position on the field — box-to-box midfielder. He led the team in tackles and fouls conceded (you’ve got to love that physicality). He’s got real potential and will be one to watch in 2021.
Another player — who if he can stay healthy — will surely get a first team contract at some point, is goalkeeper Brooks Thompson. He led the team in saves (24) and save percentage (77.4%). Unfortunately, he missed all of 2019 with an injury and missed the final spell of games in 2020. If he gets healthy and stays healthy, he’s one to watch.
On the other end of the spectrum you have players like MLS veteran Dillon Serna (26) who reinvented himself as a left back in 2020 and did quite well despite playing for a shaky defense. And former SKC first round pick Camden Riley (24) who played significant minutes at defensive midfielder and right back. They are longer shots because of their age, but it can’t be ruled out.
There are lots more stats to be dug into over at the official USL site. What stood out to you, either on the stat sheet or via the eye test, from the 2020 SKC II season? Join us in the comments to let us know.