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Sporting II host Charlotte Independence for USL Championship opener

The USL is back for year 10, with all the matches available through ESPN+ and a weekly ‘Game of the Week’ on ESPN News and ESPN Deportes.

Wilson Harris battling for the ball.
Thad Bell

Sporting Kansas City II vs Charlotte Independence

When: Sunday, March 8, 2020, 4:00 PM CT

Where: Children’s Mercy Park, Kansas City, Kansas

How to Watch: ESPN+ ($4.99/ or 49.99 annually)

For the first time since the Swope Park Rangers changed to Sporting Kansas City II, Paulo Nagamura’s side will get the chance to play competitive soccer.

They will be up against the Charlotte Independence, who finished 2019 in 13th place in the Eastern Conference. Led by head coach Mike Jeffries, who enters his second season as the head coach, the Independence will bring former Swope Park Rangers forward Dane Kelly. Charlotte will also bring former Colorado Rapids forward Enzo Martinez, who scored seven goals in 32 appearances in his first year with the Independence. Joining the forward line this season will also be the potential debut of Boca Juniors product Guido Vadala, as the 23 year old Argentine signed over the offseason with just four goals in 41 professional appearances in Colombia, Chile, and Argentina while also spending time on loan with Juventus, but made no appearances.

Charlotte won’t be with Jorge Herrera, who announced his retirement following 231 USL appearances which brought out 72 regular season goals and 35 regular season assists, which all rank second in the USL’s young history. Former MLS journeyman Dom Oduro, who scored eight goals in 38 games, was not listed on their updated roster.

Then named the Swope Park Rangers, the Charlotte Independence have yet to get a win after two previous opportunities last season. In June of 2019 SPR got a scoreless home draw, and in September SPR grabbed their fifth win of the season in a 3-0 road win with a brace from Wilson Harris and a third goal from Wan Kuzain.

Sporting KC II’s lineup could go in a bunch of different ways, so we’ll save the lineup prediction for future games. It will be interesting to see if any Sporting KC first team players get appearances other than Felipe Hernandez and Wan Kuzain. Sporting II also announced the signing of 2020 Sporting KC SuperDraft pick Jaret Townsend on Friday afternoon, who trained with SKC II throughout preseason. The 22 year old will offer another option in the midfield.

With the roster that SKC II currently have, it is safe to say that they will be expecting to have more success this season. Ze Pedro was very productive since signing in the back half of last season, as the Portuguese winger was directly involved in eight goals in 12 games.

With it being the first game of the season for both sides, both will be eager to shake off the early nerves and also notch their first win of the season. This one doesn’t really have a clear favorite, but SKC II will have an interesting time with so many new pieces and options.

If you haven’t checked it out yet, here is the full season preview with a breakdown of all the new signings and the team’s first home and away kit as SKC II.