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Preview: Sporting KC II @ Indy Eleven

SKC II and the first team will play the same day, limiting potential loans

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Jake Davis took huge strides forward last season
Thad Bell

USL Championship Regular Season- Matchday 5

Sporting Kansas City II @ Indy Eleven

Saturday, May 21, 6:00 p.m. CST

Where: Michael A. Carroll Stadium, Indianapolis, Indiana

How to Watch: ESPN+

Just days after their first road result of the season, Sporting KC II will look to complete a successful two-game road trip with a win against a divisional rival in Indy Eleven.

Entering this weekend in seventh place in the Central Division with two losses and two ties, Sporting II are looking for their first win of the season. Paulo Nagamura’s side will be playing their third game in eight days and coming off a 1-1 draw against LA Galaxy II.

SKC II have scored twice this year, courtesy of Tyler Freeman and Dominik Resetar. They will need to continue to steady their defense and build up their attack for success against Indy Eleven.

Still out for SKC II is goalkeeper Remi Prieur (left knee) and defender Travian Sousa (right hamstring). Defender Isaiah LeFlore (right hamstring) is still listed as questionable.

SKC II have become very familiar with Indy Eleven over the past couple of years. Playing each other six times from the past couple of seasons, both of SKC II’s wins came in 2020 while Indy got two wins in 2019 and another pair in 2020. Saturday’s meeting will be the first of four scheduled between the two sides this season.

Indy Eleven

Indy Eleven enter this matchup looking much different than last season. They no longer have ex-SPR/SKC forward Tyler Pasher, who is back in the MLS with the Houston Dynamo. Former captain Paddy Barrett has also returned to his native Ireland to play for St. Patrick’s Athletic while goalkeeper Evan Newton signed with the Vancouver Whitecaps.

They are still managed by Martin Rennie while defender Karl Ouimette has taken the captain’s armband.

Coming off a bitterly disappointing 2020 campaign, where they missed out on the playoffs after winning just one of their final seven games, Indy made some offseason additions. Highlighting the additions has been former Sheffield United and Rangers midfielder Nicky Law, coming from Exeter City, and former Scottish youth international forward Cammy Smith, coming from Ayr United.

The pair have started each of the first two matches for Indy, leading them to a 1-0 win against Birmingham Legion FC, where another new signing Manuel Arteaga scored the team’s only goal in two games. They also started in their 2-0 defeat against FC Tulsa most recently on May 10.

With three points, Indy enters this weekend in fifth place in the Central Division. Their only absence will be forward Carl Haworth.

Predicted Starting XI

Coming in on short rest, there will be some changes to the starting XI from last time out. Matt Constant could return after serving his one-game suspension. With the first team in San Jose on Saturday night, that likely eliminates the possibility of seeing Amadou Dia and Wilson Harris.

For the predicted starting XI against Indy Eleven, I picked the same starting back five that played well in LA. Things get mixed up in the midfield with Jahon Rad and Ozzie Cisneros entering the XI as Jake Davis retains his spot, looking to prove a certain person wrong.

Ropapa Mensah also retains his starting spot as Tyler Freeman and Grayson Barber are selected to return to the starting XI (though this may depend on Johnny Russell’s availability).

Final Prediction

Indy will have some motivation to get back at SKC II after it was SKC II who ended their playoff hopes last year with a stoppage-time goal from Bailey Sparks. The challenge for SKC II will be to keep the momentum from last game going.

For my final prediction, I think a fresh Indy Eleven side comes away with a 3-1 win.