Sporting Kansas City II preseason kicked off on Saturday when they visited USL League One side Union Omaha but came up on the short end of a 2-1 final score.
Omaha finished second in USL One in their Inaugural year last season and have a strong team lined up for 2021.
SKC II went with a mix of Sporting KC II roster players, loans from the first team, SKC Academy players and trialists to face Omaha.
There were three loans from the senior team, Homegrown attackers Ozzie Cisneros and Tyler Freeman were starters while center back Graham Smith was on the bench to start. For Cisneros it was a special day since the 17-year-old is a native of Omaha before moving to Kansas City to join the Academy and this was his first game back since he was 10.
With it being a preseason match, substitutions rules were ignored and SKC II ended up using 21 players in the match with only keeper Gavin Krenecki staying on for the full 90 minutes.
Omaha started strong, pressing hard and putting the young SKC II side under a lot of pressure early. SKC II struggled to get out of their own half for long portions but has the game wore on they started to get their feet under them around the 20th minute.
Despite starting to get a little rhythm, Omaha struck first in the 25th minute. Omaha had a breakaway headed towards SKC’s goal but speedy right back Kayden Pierre made up ground and knocked the ball away across the endline. The resulting corner found JP Searce who found some extra height using Tyler Freeman. Searce’s header slid through traffic and may have been redirected past Krenecki.
GOAL @Union_Omaha!! Our first goal at Werner Park this year, and it was right in front of @OmahaParliament. Exciting to see @SportingKCII make their first trip up to #Omaha #VamosBúhos #VivaBúhos #Flywiththeowls #omahasoccer pic.twitter.com/UmReqB4XGZ— Alec Carstens (@alec_carstens) April 18, 2021
SKC II’s goal came in the 34th minute after some quality buildup by the visitors. A series of more than ten passes that included all three midfielders at least twice, and Freeman before Jake Davis slid the ball to Pierre. The right back Academy player that spent some quality time with the first team in Arizona put on a burst of speed up the right side before slicing it in to Dominik Resetar. The Croatian forward one-timed it past the Omaha keeper for the loan SKC II goal.
GOAL by @ResetarDominik— Alec Carstens (@alec_carstens) April 19, 2021
Quick look at @SportingKCII’s equalizer on 4/17 against @Union_Omaha. I would’ve preferred a clean sheet, but I feel obligated to share with the @SportingKC faithful.@SKCOmahaBrigade @SKCAcademy @BlueTestamentKC @OmahaParliament #NebraskaSoccer #Omaha pic.twitter.com/flHh7A8UTr
The visitors were the better team for the rest of the half and early in the second half but could not find another score. With most of the lineup (eight players) subbed out at the 60th, and the remaining players (except Krenecki) at the 75th mark, SKC II did not find momentum again. There were Moments of quality but not enough sustained play.
With most of SKC II still trying to get up to speed, Omaha struck for the winning goal in the 63rd. Scearce scored another header that bounced through traffic leaving Krenecki with little chance of a save.
All opinions are strictly my own
- Omaha is a good team, that pressed, they were speedy, they read plays well and should be contenders for USL League One champions.
- Very tall center back pair to start, 6’3” Danny Barbir looked short next to SKC draft pick Matt Constant who at 6’6” had a size advantage on everyone. Despite the size of the two defenders, they moved the ball pretty well and did defended well for the most part despite a lot of Omaha players running at them at speed.
- Midfield trio of Cisneros, Jake Davis and Jahon Rad with Rad at the d-mid role. If they played together more often they might be really good together but it took a while for them to get it going as a group. A lot of that may have been Cisneros who struggled early. It might have been a case of jitters playing in front of family but once he settled down the midfield started to click and he helped set up several chances.
- Davis and Rad both hammered players with some strong, physical challenges that were legal and clean. USL opponents may regret going through the midfield if they keep it up this season. Davis has improved each year and could be one of the next players knocking on the Homegrown door.
- Freeman is looking strong. He might be a year or weeks away from getting some first team time. He was dropping back to help out the mid initially but as everything started to get better he became more dangerous as well. He had a blazing shot in the second half from around 25-yards that skimmed over top of the crossbar. A foot lower and no keeper stops it.
- Pierre was very fast and got back on defense much quicker than Omaha expected. It seemed that several players had a hard time connecting with him as he got forward quickly and passes were often behind him. Some excellent tackles and recovery play that may have not been needed if the connections to him were a little better.
- Krenecki is a very good keeper and never looks out of place when he joins the USL team. Positions well, comes out timely, good shot stopper. Krenecki is committed to Louisville but it would be great to see another good keeper in the SKC pro ranks.
- Bailey Sparks was one of the bright spots in the second wave of players. He set up a couple of forwards, had a good shot at times slid further back to more of a playmaking 6 role that helped settle the younger squad down a bit. Another player that would be great to have on SKC II to see how he develops.
- Cyrus Rad came on at left back to replace Christian Duke. Did not get to see him in detail a lot since he was mostly at the far point away my position but he looked alright. He is the older brother of twins Kaveh and Jahon. Cyrus is listed as on trial with SKC II. Would be a lot of fun to have the Rad brothers all in one organization.
- Keeper Remi Prieur and defenders Petar Cuic and Travian Sousa were not in the lineup and may have been injured. Sousa had been in Arizona with the first team.
- Cisneros had a large fan base of family and friends in attendance.
OMA – JP Scearce (unknown) 25’
SKC – Dominik Resetar (Kayden Pierre) 34’
OMA – JP Scearce (Devin Bernard) 63’
Sporting Kansas City II Lineup
Gavin Krenecki**; Kayden Pierre** (Michael Lenis** 75’), Matt Constant^ (Graham Smith* 60’), Danny Barbir (Aljaz Dzankic 60’), Christian Duke (Cyrus Rad^^ 60’); Jahon Rad (Nicholas Pendleton** 60’), Jake Davis (Bailey Sparks** 60’), Ozzie Cisneros* (Sebastian Fierro Gonzalez^^ 75’); Enoch Mushagalusa (Rojay Smith^^), Dominik Resetar (Ropapa Mensah 60’), Tyler Freeman* (David Panka 60’)