Sporting Kansas City II vs Louisville City FC
GAME 1: Saturday, July 25, 2020, 7:00 PM CT
GAME 2: Wednesday July 29, 2020, 7:00 PM CT
Where: Lynn Family Stadium, Louisville, Kentucky
How to Watch: ESPN+ ($4.99/month or 49.99 annually)
Still looking for their first points of 2020, Sporting Kansas City II will be up against Louisville City FC twice in a span of four days. This will be the first two of four total visits to Lynn Family Stadium for Sporting KC II in 2020.
These matchups will feature an SKC II team with very limited experience while Louisville will bring a wealth of USL experience, which includes winning the USL Cup Playoffs in 2017 and 2018 before losing the 2019 final against the Real Monarchs (Real Salt Lake).
These two sides met twice last season. The first meeting came on May 6th of 2019, when SKC II took down the then two-time defending champions with a 90th minute winner from defender Abdul Rwatubyaye in his short stint with the organization. Louisville didn’t let the second meeting slip away, as they overturned an early 3-0 deficit to run away with an 8-3 win in October.
Entering their third game of the season with a record of 0-2-0, SKC II are coming off an impressive performance that surpassed many expectations against Indy Eleven, though they still took their second defeat of the year by a final scoreline of 2-1.
Dillon Serna got his first minutes with SKC II last week at left back. It looks like he will continue to get some minutes in that role down the road after it was confirmed that Luis Olivera’s loan has expired after just one appearance.
Luis Olivera's loan to SKC II has expired and he has returned to Club Atletico Atenas in Uruguay #SKCII #SportingKC #USL— Thad (@TheBackpost) July 21, 2020
One worry for Sporting II will be the health of forward Wilson Harris. The team’s only goalscorer of this season opened his scoring account in the 53rd minute, but was forced off injured minutes later. [Editor: Our own Thad Bell confirmed in an interview with Paulo Nagamura that Harris simply had a cramp and is fine.]
Louisville City FC
This season has been far from ideal for Louisville City FC so far. Not only has the pandemic caused uncertainty with all other things, but the opening of their brand new soccer-specific stadium was delayed. In normal circumstances, a brand-new stadium would be filled for the opener, but the pandemic caused the grand opening of Lynn Family Stadium to seat just 4,850 of the 11,700 seat capacity. Along with this, the team has lost its first two matches in their new stadium.
Under third year manager John Hackworth, Lou City enter with a record of 1-2-0. Led by Jamaican captain Speedy Williams, Louisville are looking to grab their first win at their new home. Someone who will be eager to make that happen will be Cameron Lancaster. The former Tottenham academy player played with Louisville from 2015-2018 before signing with Nashville SC, but still leaves a sour taste in the mouth of Swope Park Rangers fans for his 88th minute winner in the 2017 USL Cup Final to defeat SPR 1-0. Lancaster spent 2019 with Nashville in the USL last season, but was returned on loan to Lou City for 2020. The 27-year-old forward scored 42 goals in 93 appearances in his first stint with Louisville and has one goal in three appearances since his return.
After winning their first match of the season against North Carolina FC in March, Lou City have lost two straight since their return. After dropping their first match 3-1 to the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, they lost their second straight to Group E rival St. Louis FC by a scoreline of 1-0.
Predicted Starting XI
For Saturday’s match, I’ll predict a similar lineup to the one that took the field last weekend. The major question will be the availability of Wilson Harris, who came off injured minutes after scoring the equalizer last weekend. I kept him in my predicted starting XI, but if he is out, then Dominik Resetar would likely get the start at center forward. If Harris is out, that would be a big miss considering Harris has scored 11 goals from his last 13 appearances.
Wednesday's match will likely feature quite a bit of rotation with the shortened rest with another game to follow several days later. I predicted a total of seven changes from Saturday’s lineup, with the only one’s keeping their place being Dillon Serna, Kaveh Rad, Christian Duke, and Fredinho Mompremier.
Highlighting the changes is the return of Enoch Mushagalusa to the starting lineup, joined by the possibility of Dominik Resetar, Duval Wapiwo, Danny Barbir, and Mason Leeth getting their first starts after coming in as substitutes in the loss against Indy. While goalkeepers don’t necessarily need the rest, I think Paulo Nagamura will give Remi Prieur his first chance in goal, replacing Brooks Thompson. Finally, I think we could see the Rad brothers reunite in the starting XI, as Jahon would replace Camden Riley.
The next three games will certainly test the depth of Sporting II, which could also see the first actions for some other players yet to feature like Josh Chong, Ryan Fessler, and the recently signed Bailey Sparks.
I’d say that Louisville are still the clear favorite for both matches despite their recent struggles. It should be expected that Sporting II will improve as the season grows with such a different lineup and personnel than 2019 as the new guys better grasp the system.
I believe the best opportunity to get a result will be Saturday’s game. Wednesday’s game will be difficult because SKC II won’t be able to put their best guys out their for the entire 90 minutes while Lou City may be able to do that because they have plenty of recovery time before their next match on August 8th.
For my final prediction, I think SKC II will get a 1-1 draw on Saturday before a 3-1 loss on Wednesday.