Sporting Kansas City II had fallen to last place behind their Wednesday opponent, OKC Energy FC, just before heading on the road to face them. They would bring a decently strong lineup of first team loanees considering both teams played simultaneously (the first team pounded out the Colorado Rapids with a 3-1 scoreline).
SKC II brought along five first team players, including Tyler Freeman, Graham Smith, Kayden Pierre and Brooks Thompson in the starting lineup, with Ozzie Cisneros on the bench.
The SKC II XI— Sporting KC II (@SportingKCII) June 23, 2021
Kickoff at 7:30 p.m. CT on ESPN+! #OKCvSKC pic.twitter.com/8TlhdND4bH
The Energy trotted out the same lineup from over the weekend.
— Energy FC (@EnergyFC) June 23, 2021
One change from the win at Memphis with @sam16_rogers in for the suspended @robcoronado3!
Kickoff in ☝️ hour so plenty of time to get down to Stade de Taft!#FullyCharged | #OKCvSKC pic.twitter.com/vsYehdPaLZ
The first big chance of the game for Sporting KC II came when Tyler Freeman broke out on a counter in the 8th minute and ran into traffic while sending the ball to the left to Rojay Smith. If not for a strong save by Cochran, SKC II would have been out to an early lead. The broadcast later called it the save of the game.
There was a bit of a back and forth after that chance with the wind causing some havoc on long balls before controversy struck the game for the first time.
In the 27th minute SKC II played a corner in. Tyler Freeman delivered a good ball and the OKC Energy goalkeeper came flying out but crashed into his own man and missed the ball. The corner then fell to Petr Cuic who blasted it home for what appeared to be the opening goal. However, the ref inexplicably called it back for an SKC II foul. The announcers speculated maybe Danny Barbir pushed the OKC player into the keeper, but it wasn’t obvious. There is no VAR in the USL Championship and the no-goal call would stand. Seems like it should have been 1-0 in favor of the road team.
Disaster nearly struck in the 42nd minute. Danny Barbir played a ball back to Dzankic but he misplayed it and Lopez steals it for OKC but Thompson comes out quick and comes up huge to keep the game scoreless.
Terrible referring then strikes on the edge of half-time for the second time. Graham Smith gets in a pickle and tries to clear a ball but it bounces off the attacker and into the box. Smith chases it down and attempts to clear it when it goes into Christian Duke’s hand which was in a natural position at his side. Also, it traveled a very short distance after the attempted clearance and if anything, Duke’s hand keeps the ball in the box instead of allowing it to clear, so it didn’t even disadvantage OKC.
On the subsequent penalty kick Bijev’s shot is saved by a diving Brooks Thompson but he can’t hold the ball and Bijev picks up the rebound and pokes it in to make it 1-0 going into the half. So for those keeping track, the ref wrongly took away a goal from SKC II and then incorrectly gave a PK to Oklahoma. USL badly needs VAR because in MLS these calls probably get fixed and the rest of the game would play out much difference with OKC chasing instead of bunkering. Being a referee is tough, but that’s a rough half from the ‘yellow team.’
In the second half SKC II got off to a slow start. In the 55th minute, Graham Smith played a ball back to Thompson that was nearly a disaster since it was high in the air and he couldn’t use his hands. Thompson somehow controlled it enough and made a half-save on a charging Energy FC player to keep the score 1-0.
The game hit a lull for a while early in the second half until Sporting started throwing numbers forward into the attack which led to chances on their end, as well as counter chances for Oklahoma City.
In the 75th minute Sporting looked like they were going for it taking off a midfielder (Jake Davis) for a striker (Dominik Resetar). However, Freeman just dropped into the midfield, so while it was more dynamic look as Freeman is more of a creator, it wasn’t as aggressive as it initially appeared.
As the game played out, the formation was questionable at best from SKC. Barbir was playing left back but it essentially became a back three with him, Dzankic and Graham Smith all staying home. Pierre got up into the attack but in a regular lineup that didn’t essentially have three center backs, the left back would have joined the attack too. It was definitely not aggressive tactically.
In the 78th minute off an OKC corner a ball bounced painfully slowly through the box and three Energy FC players missed it to keep it 1-0. Of all their legit chances, that was the best.
A second team debut was had for Coby Jones in the 84th minute when he came on for Cuic. Jones signed an Academy contract earlier in the week. Ozzie Cisneros was subbed on for Freeman at the same time. Both players are just 17-years-old. Jones played in a more advanced midfield role with Christian Duke dropping deep into the holding midfield spot.
Sporting could never establish a rhythm after that and the ball was just end to end, with turnovers followed by long OKC clearances. The ball almost never came into the new midfielders and instead stayed wide most of the time. A couple yellow cards were dished out late, but otherwise, nothing worth mentioning happened.
In the end, officiating impacts the game greatly as, even the somewhat biased announcers admitted, it was a soft PK call that led to the deciding goal.
SKC II are on to their third game in a week as a part of four games in a 12 days stretch. They are back in action for their third game in just seven days as they travel to Tennessee to play Memphis 901 on Saturday. You can watch on ESPN+, as always.
Here is the match summary, courtesy of SportingKC.com:
Sporting Kansas City II: Brooks Thompson; Kayden Pierre, Graham Smith, Aljaz Dzankic, Danny Barbir; Petar Cuic (Coby Jones 84’), Christian Duke (C), Jake Davis (Dominik Resetar 75’); Rojay Smith, Tyler Freeman (Ozzie Cisneros 83’), Enoch Mushagalusa*
Subs Not Used: *Max Trejo, Matt Constant, Michael Lenis, Jahon Rad
OKC Energy FC: C.J. Cochran; Zachary Ellis-Hayden, Conor Donovan (C), Mitch Osmond, Sam Rogers; Arun Basuljevic, Hiroki Kurimoto, Charlie Ward (Brad Dunwell 80’), Aidan Daniels (Jonathan Brown 91+); Villyan Bijev (Tucker Stephenson 70’), Frank Lopez (Jaime Chaves 80’)*
Subs Not Used:* Kyle Ihn, Sam Howard, Muengnenshime Goshit
OKC – Villyan Bijev (Unassisted) 46+
SKC – Danny Barbir (Yellow Card; Unsporting Behavior) 90’
OKC – Zachary Ellis-Hayden (Yellow Card; Time Wasting) 94+
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