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2021 Sporting KC II Season Review: What happened, awards and final stats

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A season of disappointment.

Enoch Mushagalusa was the only consistent offense for SKC II in 2021
Thad Bell

Coming off a promising 2020 season, Sporting Kansas City II did not live up to their expectations in 2021 as they suffered a club record of 20 losses and had a club-low of four wins en route to missing the playoffs for the third consecutive season.

Concluding the season with a final record of 4-20-8, SKC II finished the season in last place of the Central Division with 20 points. Loudoun United FC, DC United’s USL affiliate, was the only team in the USL Championship with a worse record as they finished the season 4-25-3 with 15 points in the Atlantic Division.

The season got off to a tough start as they secured just two points from their opening five matches. They turned things around for a bit and got five points from their next three games. The rest of the season was a bit of a struggle, popping a few good results in every once in a while before ending the year on a six-game losing streak.

SKC II manager Paulo Nagamura’s fourth season in charge was his worst one yet, as his overall regular-season record dropped to 30-61-23. In the past three seasons, SKC II has missed the playoffs with a combined record of 16-50-17. This was potentially Nagamura’s last season with SKC II as The Athletic reported that the former SKC midfielder is scheduled to interview for Chicago Fire FC’s vacant managerial role.

Let’s continue the 2021 review by looking at some of the positives from the season. (All words by Nathan Dunn (ND) unless otherwise noted).

Individual Accolades

John Pulskamp - Week 6 USL Championship Team of the Week

Rojay Smith - Week 7 USL Championship Fans’ Choice Goal of the Week Finalist

Kaveh Rad - Week 7 USL Championship Team of the Week

Enoch Mushagalusa - Week 8 USL Championship Team of the Week

Danny Barbir - Week 10 USL Championship Team of the Week bench

Isaiah LeFlore - Week 20 USL Championship Team of the Week

Jake Davis - Week 25 USL Championship Team of the Week

Awards

Offensive Player of the Year

Nathan Dunn (ND) - Enoch Mushagalusa gets this award. A great threat on the left and produced eight goals and four assists with limited help.

Enoch Mushagalusa
Thad Bell

Chad Smith (CS) - Can’t disagree here. “Matiti” played the most and still feels like a USL level player, but he led the team in goals, was second in assists and was the only consistent forward on the field.

Thad Bell (TB) - Make it three in a row. Enoch Mushagalusa was the one consistent offensive threat.

Defensive Player of the Year

ND - Kayden Pierre was the most consistent fixture in the back line. And he showed well after earning a first team contract in May. He also recently earned a call-up to the US U-20s.

CS - Center back was a revolving door. Isaiah LeFlore did start to emerge at left back but Pierre was the only guy who consistently stayed on the field. He started slow, but grew into the season and seems like a promising RB of the future.

TB - This is hard, like many of the SKC II awards. Pierre was entertaining, Isaiah LeFlore was solid most of the time, Danny Barbir and Kaveh Rad were the best center backs. My vote does have to go to KP as well.

Most Impactful Loan

ND - This one goes to Pierre as well. If not for Pierre, Jake Davis would have been forced to play right back for much of the season. The 18-year-old Academy product was a bright spot for SKC II and looks closer to getting MLS minutes.

CS - Since Nathan picked Pierre, I’ll pick Jake Davis to mix it up. The midfield of this team was simply better with Davis on the field. It would have been even better if Nagamura had paired a more attacking midfielder with him, as he’s more of a Roger Espinoza destroyer in the box-to-box role.

TB - I am going to cheat here and do it as a group. The first team keepers played 30 of the 32 games between the pipes. Kendall McIntosh (13), John Pulskamp (12) and Brooks Thompson (5). SKC II signed keeper Remi Prieur had zero minutes. Academy contract keeper Gavin Krenecki rounded out the remaining games with two. Obviously the team struggled and the keepers were challenged but if they did not have the first team keepers it might have been a (worse) bloodbath.

Newcomer of the Year

ND - I pick Rojay Smith for this award. He wasn’t spectacular, but he scored some nice goals. He beats out Matt Constant, Aljaz Dzankic, Ropapa Mensah and now former SKC II left back Travian Sousa for this award.

CS - To be a contrarian, I’ll pick Ozzie Cisneros. He didn’t have a great year but he also came on late and he’ll be around long-term as he’s just 17-years-old and he’s on a first team deal. I’d have loved to see more of him paired with Davis and Cuic or Jahon Rad behind them to see what the future of the midfield looks like.

TB - Chad thinks he is contrarian. I am almost required to go with a different player, Mateo Bunbury. Not a lot of games so maybe he can still count as a newcomer next year as well, but few players were as exciting as seeing another in the Bunbury family legacy take the field for Kansas City. Fast, tricky, and learning every time he stepped on the field.

CS - It’s funny you say next year for Mateo, Thad. I wanted to pick Isaiah LeFlore but he was technically on SKC II last year and did play in a handful of games. So here is an honorable mention for LeFlore. I won’t be stunned if he signs at least a second team contract in the future but left back is an area of opportunity on the first team too.

Most Improved Player of the Year

ND - I’m going with Mushagalusa again. He was frustrating to watch last season because he seemed to always take too many touches and ended the season with one goal and one assist in 11 games. This season, he was able to take a lot of touches but was able to be more productive as well and added eight goals and four assists.

CS - I can’t disagree with Nathan, but I’ll pick someone else to spread the love. Petar Cuic has been on loan for two seasons with SKC II and is set to return to Dinamo Zagreb II. He’s played CB, d-mid and actually started to turn into a decent box-to-box midfielder. It’ll be interesting if that loan is made permanent or if he’s gone.

TB - Both good choices and difficult to find someone else that improved from last year. As Nathan said, Mushagalusa tended to take too many touches and try to dribble through every defense in 2020. As the 2021 season progressed, so did Mushagalusa. Not only in scoring but in making the needed pass. It was still clearly not his first thought but he was significantly better. Cuic also improved from last year. It took a while for him to fit in but it feels like that progress made a significant start in 2020 and continued steadily through 2021. Cuic became perhaps the most reliable midfielder for SKC II but the vote does go to Mushagalusa.

Biggest Disappointment

ND - There was a ton to be disappointed about, but none were more disappointing than the overall standing of the team in 2021. After showing so much promise and competing with some good teams in 2020, SKC II severely disappointed in 2021 and struggled mightily to stay in the playoff race no matter how many opportunities they were given.

CS - Nathan’s right again, but let’s highlight two other points. Travian Sousa never played in a non-exhibition game and he seemed so promising. Also, I have to say the lack of minutes for the SKC loanees. Pierre was second on the team in minutes, but you have to go to 6th (Davis) and 7th (Graham Smith) to find more guys. Cisneros rounded out the top 10 but Kaveh Rad, Wilson Harris and Grayson Barber spent too much time rotting on the SKC bench for my liking.

TB - My biggest disappointment was in not being able to keep a couple of players around for the future. Gavin Krenecki may not be the tallest or have the longest arms in the keeper world but every time I saw him play, he gave it his all. Krenecki looked like a Tim Melia type of keeper that might be invisible for a few years and then break out. Not knowing if he was offered a contract for SKC II or not, he chose to go to college at the University of Louisville.

The other player that I would have loved to see play for SKC II more but injuries and MLS Territorial rights “may have” played a role was Bailey Sparks. He came up from Dallas to join SKC’s Academy and showed a smooth and skilled ability in each appearance. Sparks is now playing for SMU.

Travian Sousa
Thad Bell

I will add an honorable mention and agree with Chad on Travian Sousa but also add Boubacar Traore. The Mali forward was supposed to come on loan from Honved but the visa was not approved in time for Traore to join the team. Sousa was injured in preseason and his only appearance after that was a few mixed-bag minutes in a scrimmage with SKC II versus a college team. Sousa was released and then signed by the Oakland Roots, where he can presumably be closer to his home. Sousa has limited minutes with Oakland as well. Both or even one of those two playing up to their rumored ability could have made a difference.

I could add a couple more but let's not make the disappointments section longer than the rest of the article.

Most Valuable Player

ND - I think Enoch Mushagalusa wins this award. He was SKC II’s greatest threat in the final third and played in every game. He led the team in goals and was a good weapon cutting in from the left wing. Since it looks like SKC II is on its way out of the USL, I am interested to see what Mushagalusa does next season.

CS - I abstain. There is no MVP when on a four win team.

TB - Overall the team did not perform well but the MVP can still be named. And his name is Enoch. Mushagalusa was entertaining, showed improvement and scored!

Goalkeeper of the Year

CS - John Pulskamp. He and Kendall McIntosh split minutes pretty even with Brooks Thompson disappointingly only getting five games. Pulskamp led the team in saves, save percentage and tied in clean sheets.

TB - If Thompson can ever get in a groove and stay healthy, he can be a challenger to Pulskamp for first team backup, but he does need to achieve that first. McIntosh made some big saves but Pulskamp is a clear winner.

Season Stats

Goals (appearances)

  1. Enoch Mushagalusa - 8 (32)
  2. Rojay Smith - 5 (29)
  3. Tyler Freeman - 3 (9)
  4. Ozzie Cisneros - 3 (21)
  5. Jamil Roberts - 2 (16)
  6. Danny Barbir - 2 (24)
  7. Jake Davis - 2 (26)
  8. Cameron Duke - 1 (4)
  9. Dominik Resetar - 1 (8)

Assists (appearances)

  1. Jake Davis - 6 (26)
  2. Enoch Mushagalusa - 4 (32)
  3. Grayson Barber - 2 (10)
  4. Ropapa Mensah - 2 (14)
  5. Isaiah LeFlore - 2 (19)
  6. Kayden Pierre - 2 (28)
  7. Felipe Hernandez - 1 (2)
  8. Amadou Dia - 1 (9)
  9. Tyler Freeman - 1 (9)
  10. Matt Constant - 1 (10)

Goalkeeper Saves (appearances)

  1. John Pulskamp - 42 (12)
  2. Kendall McIntosh - 37 (13)
  3. Brooks Thompson - 16 (5)
  4. Gavin Krenecki - 5 (2)

Goalkeeper Shutouts (goals conceded)

  1. John Pulskamp - 3 (20)
  2. Kendall McIntosh - 3 (25)

Here are the full stats courtesy of USLChampionship.com (this is best viewed from a desktop computer).

2021 SKC II Stats

Player GP Starts Sub Off Minutes Shots SOG Goals Assists Clearances Blocks Interceptions Tackles Tackles Won Duels Duels Won Ariel Duels AD Won Yellow Red Fouls Won Fouls Committed
Player GP Starts Sub Off Minutes Shots SOG Goals Assists Clearances Blocks Interceptions Tackles Tackles Won Duels Duels Won Ariel Duels AD Won Yellow Red Fouls Won Fouls Committed
Enoch Mushagalusa 32 28 10 2,522 69 28 8 4 10 0 18 28 19 415 155 55 22 5 0 39 35
Kayden Pierre 28 26 2 2,352 1 1 1 2 34 4 19 33 20 197 105 47 14 2 0 24 13
Petar Cuic 29 25 14 2,076 10 5 1 0 21 4 43 46 29 199 78 33 15 7 0 8 43
Daniel Barbir 24 21 0 1,970 9 3 2 0 76 12 27 25 18 130 59 49 19 3 0 7 14
Christian Duke 28 22 8 1,968 8 2 0 0 21 1 28 35 27 227 122 64 34 7 0 49 36
Jacob Davis 26 21 8 1,825 20 7 2 6 25 3 25 68 38 234 108 42 14 10 0 21 32
Graham Smith 21 17 0 1,621 6 3 0 0 77 13 31 27 18 155 100 78 53 2 0 17 23
Rojay Smith 29 13 6 1,442 32 17 5 0 12 0 6 12 8 110 40 21 5 0 0 11 8
Isaiah LeFlore 19 13 1 1,276 9 3 0 0 29 8 22 38 24 175 100 31 17 0 0 19 11
Osvaldo Cisneros 21 16 12 1,254 7 4 3 0 4 0 6 25 12 151 86 18 6 4 0 34 17
Kendall McIntosh 13 13 0 1,170 0 0 0 0 14 0 0 0 0 16 10 8 7 1 0 4 3
John Pulskamp 12 12 0 1,080 0 0 0 0 6 0 1 2 2 15 11 5 4 0 0 4 0
Jahon Rad 21 9 6 1,023 9 3 0 0 12 5 8 32 19 147 85 39 20 4 0 28 18
Alljaz Dzankic 14 11 3 986 5 1 0 0 44 9 19 15 13 79 47 40 25 2 0 4 12
Jamil Roberts 16 9 6 870 12 5 2 0 10 1 7 3 1 44 19 15 2 0 0 11 3
Kaveh Rad 10 10 2 840 5 1 1 0 25 4 9 11 8 66 41 29 15 3 0 13 7
Wilson Harris 10 10 8 785 16 7 2 0 6 1 3 7 5 68 27 26 10 2 0 4 10
Amadou Dia 9 9 1 781 2 0 0 1 26 1 16 14 7 88 51 32 22 3 0 7 13
Matthew Constant 10 9 2 743 3 1 0 1 37 3 8 3 1 49 29 30 20 0 1 10 6
Grayson Barber 10 10 7 708 3 1 1 2 2 0 7 9 9 81 37 18 7 1 0 16 10
Tyler Freeman 9 6 4 497 12 8 3 1 0 0 1 4 3 41 18 2 0 1 0 9 5
Ropapa Mensah 14 5 3 479 13 2 0 2 4 0 4 3 1 105 44 55 25 0 0 13 10
Brooks Thompson 5 5 0 450 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 2 1 1 1 0 0 0 0
Mataeo Bunbury 7 5 5 399 6 3 0 0 1 0 4 13 7 57 27 12 7 0 0 4 5
Jayin Van Deventer 13 3 4 376 0 0 0 0 0 2 4 8 3 27 14 2 1 0 0 2 4
Cameron Duke 4 4 2 326 3 3 1 0 0 0 6 5 2 35 18 3 2 1 0 9 3
Zion Long 8 4 4 319 1 0 0 0 1 1 0 3 2 43 20 18 8 0 0 8 6
Dominik Resetar 8 3 4 291 2 1 1 0 2 0 2 2 2 29 8 11 4 2 0 1 6
Jaylin Lindsey 3 3 1 239 0 0 0 0 5 2 7 1 1 19 14 11 8 0 0 3 1
Coby Jones 9 2 1 230 2 1 1 0 8 0 7 6 4 26 14 6 3 1 0 3 5
Bailey Sparks 6 2 2 202 3 2 0 0 1 0 1 4 3 25 13 4 1 0 0 7 3
Gavin Krenecki 2 2 0 180 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 2 2 2 2 0 0 0 0
Michael Lenis 7 1 1 150 0 0 0 0 2 2 1 9 5 25 13 5 2 1 0 1 3
Felipe Hernandez 2 2 2 137 2 1 0 1 1 0 6 2 2 14 5 0 0 0 0 2 3
Roberto Puncec 1 1 1 45 0 0 0 0 2 0 3 0 0 7 5 5 4 0 0 1 1
Daniel Gutierrez 2 0 0 17 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 1 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 1