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Indy Eleven hang on for tough win over Sporting KC II

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Including Christian Duke, there were six players who made their SKC II debuts.

Wilson Harris scored the loan goal in defeat.
Thad Bell

Sporting Kansas City II were handed their second loss of the season in Indianapolis Saturday evening going down 2-1. Despite the much improved start to the season, Sporting II have nothing to show for it.

The first starting XI in 132 days for manager Paulo Nagamura ushered in Dillon Serna and Sam Raben for their SKC II debuts while captain Christian Duke got his first appearance since his return. In total there were seven changes from their week one loss against the Charlotte Independence as Petar Cuic, Camden Riley, Wilson Harris and Fredinho Mompremier were the only four to keep their starting spot.

Sporting KC II came out and played well in the opening 45 minutes with a lot of defending, but eventually surrendered the opening goal as the Indy Eleven took the lead in the 39th minute after Tyler Pasher passed the ball into the open net after receiving the rebound from Thompson’s save.

Wilson Harris found the equalizer for SKC II in the 53rd minute after nice link up play between him and Fredinho Mompremier. Indy’s Paddy Barrett found the winner in the 67th minute after Ilija Ilic had too much time to find his captain for a well-placed finish past Thompson from 18 yards out.

SKC II weren’t able to find a goal despite a couple of half chances and what seemed to be a valid penalty claim in stoppage time. While the result wasn’t what they wanted, this performance gave many much more optimism and hope for what the future could hold for this team.

Defensively, SKC II were very organized against the league’s leading scorer in Tyler Pasher. With both wingers dropping back defensively, SKC II dropped into a 4-5-1 formation defending and kept a tight midfield and high line for much of the match. There were instances of poor one-on-one defending, but it was overall a very good performance against a quality team. In his second career appearance, 18 year old keeper Brooks Thompson impressed with some big saves.

On the offensive end of the spectrum, there were some promising signs. Not only did Harris become the first goalscorer of the season for SKC II, but they looked much more threatening in the final third than what we had seen in 2019. The only complaint I have is there could have been some better decision making at times, which took away a couple of good opportunities.

Paulo Nagamura’s side are now 0-2-0 after two one-goal losses 132 days apart, which keeps them at the bottom of Group E and the only winless team from their group. Sporting II will look for their first points of 2020 next Saturday when they travel to face another tough opponent in Louisville City FC. All but one of their remaining 14 games will be on the road, making the journey even tougher.

Full match highlights: