Sporting KC II’s 80-minute search for an equalizer was never found despite coming close with a number of chances as they dropped to Birmingham Legion FC by a final score of 1-0 at home on Friday evening.
In Sporting II’s 15th loss this season, there were some promising performances. Brooks Thompson had some terrific reaction saves to keep SKC II in the game. Enoch Mushagalusa couldn’t have come any closer to equalizing on multiple occasions. And Mattaeo Bunbury showed some promise as a halftime substitute.
With five matches remaining, SKC II remains on 20 points with a 4-15-8 record. They sit at the bottom of the Central Division, trailing the playoffs by 15 points. Birmingham clinched a playoff spot with Friday's win as they moved 30 points ahead of SKC II.
Eight first-team loans filled SKC II’s lineup. With Christian Duke out with a right hip injury, Amadou Dia stepped in as captain.
Our Friday night XI— Sporting KC II (@SportingKCII) October 1, 2021
Eight @SportingKC loanees in the lineup as @BrooksThompson0, @KaydenPierre5, @KavehRad11, @Amadou_iT11, @OzzieCisner10, @jdavis_3211, @Grayson_Barber5 and @Nosliwharris earn starts!#SKCvBHM // #SportingKC pic.twitter.com/vYJcWgGgcV
Birmingham was led by Neco Brett, one of the league’s leading scorers, as well as former SKC midfielder Mikey Lopez and Jamaican international Junior Flemmings.
SKC II’s Enoch Mushagalusa had the first look of the game three minutes in. Isolated with a defender, Mushagalusa cut the ball to his right but his curling effort was high and wide.
The visitors struck with a set piece goal 10 minutes in. Bruno Lapa’s corner kick delivery was met with a terrific header by Alex Crognale. The 6’5” center back rose to easily to beat Petar Cuic in the air, heading the ball into the ground from about seven yards out.
SKC II had a good response to conceding early. In the 13th minute, Birmingham surrendered possession due to SKC II’s high pressure. Dia found Wilson Harris on a quick counter attack, but Harris’ tame effort with just the keeper to beat was saved by the keeper.
Neco Brett nearly found his 16th goal of the season for Birmingham in the 17th minute. His free kick from about 25 yards out beat Thompson before pinging off the crossbar and settling out of play.
SKC II found another chance in the 40th minute. A good free kick delivery from Jake Davis took a deflection before bouncing off Kaveh Rad and floating just wide. On another day when luck favored SKC II, the game would have been level.
Brooks Thompson was forced into action to keep it a one-goal deficit in the 44th minute. As Junior Flemmings looked to play the ball wide, his pass was headed goalwards by Dia. Thomspon came to save the own goal with a great reaction, sprawling to his left to knock it away.
SKC II came close to the equalizer in first half stoppage time. Receiving the delivery from Dia on the left, Grayson Barber’s cushioned header fell for Jake Davis to take a hit. Davis sent his shot wide.
Mushagalusa came within inches of equalizing twice in the second half. His first chance came in the 48th minute. Receiving the ball from Davis, Mushagalusa sent his shot off the frame of the goal. In the 61st minute, Cuic found Mushagalusa on the left. Mushagalusa’s effort once again beat the keeper but smacked the frame of the goal.
Another chance came to the hosts in the 65th minute. Starting the run inside his own half, 16-year-old Mattaeo Bunbury nearly found his first pro goal for SKC II. His effort was saved by an outstretched Matt Van Oekel.
SKC II nearly drew level with a shot from Ozzie Cisneros in the 83rd minute. Kayden Pierre’s run down the right set it up for Cisneros, but his shot from the top of the arc missed narrowly wide right.
Brooks Thomspon kept the scoreline at 1-0 in the 86th minute when he reacted well to deny Birmingham’s Zachary Herivaux of his first goal this season. Thompson managed to get his right hand to the ball, ushering the shot wide despite a late deflection.
SKC II hit the road for four of their final five matches, beginning with a visit to Memphis 901 FC on Wednesday.
Sporting KC II: Brooks Thompson; Amadou Dia (C) (Isaiah LeFlore 61’); Danny Barbir; Kaveh Rad (Graham Smith 61’); Kayden Pierre; Enoch Mushagalusa (Rojay Smith 77’); Wilson Harris (Ropapa Mensah 77’); Grayson Barber (Mataeo Bunbury 45’)
Subs Not Used: Remi Prieur; Jahon Rad
Birmingham Legion FC: Matt Van Oekel; Ryan James; Phanuel Kavita; Alex Crognale; Jonathan Dean; Mikey Lopez (Thomas Vancaeyezeele 68’); Bruno Lapa (Eli Crognale 68’); Anderson Asiedu; Prosper Kasim (Jacob Rufe 90+2’); Junior Flemmings (Zachary Herivaux 75’); Neco Brett
Subs Not Used: Trevor Spangenberg; Ben Ofeimu; Jaden Servania
BHM — Alex Crognale (Bruno Lapa) 10’
BHM — Mikey Lopez (yellow card; foul) 53’
SKC — Jake Davis (yellow card; foul) 56’