Sporting Kansas City II took a trip to Georgia to play Atlanta United II on the campus of Kennesaw State University (and that field was in rough shape). They brought along with them nine first team players, including six in the starting lineup.
In the starting lineup from the first team were Kendall McIntosh, Kayden Pierre, Kaveh Rad, Amadou Dia, Cam Duke and Wilson Harris. On the bench were Graham Smith, Brooks Thompson and Grayson Barber of which only Smith would get into the game late.
Another fun fact about the starting lineup is it featured two sets of brothers. Cameron Duke and Christian Duke started together for the first time ever and they were joined by twins Kaveh and Jahon Rad.
Atlanta United shuffled their lineup a bit as they were playing a third game in about a week.
SKC II got off to a hot start as they were all over Atlanta early in the game. They were up and down the field with the majority of the possession and chances. After a strong 15 minutes to start, the game settled down and Atlanta started to get their fair shares of chances.
The game got rough for a bit as Jahon Rad, who was bossing the midfield early, was taken down with several hard challenges. First Robbie Mertz Jr came in late, from behind, and wiped out J. Rad for the games first yellow. Just one minute later Bradley Kamden Fewo raised his boot and missed the ball and caught J. Rad in the face with his studs. It caused a cut that was small enough to be patched up on the field.
After the cards, it would be Sporting KC striking first on the night as J. Rad took a short corner to Enoch Mushagalusa who danced around two defenders, stabbed at it and off a slight deflection it found the side netting to make it 1-0 Sporting. It was Mushagalusa’s team leading fifth goal.
Shortly after that Kamden Fewo pulled down Enoch from behind in the box but the ref instead stops the play for a possible injury to Enoch who is hit by a diving goalkeeper. It definitely should have been a penalty and Atlanta were lucky to go into the half down by only one and not also down a man.
SKC II started strong in the second when in the 52nd minute it was Mushagalusa again causing troubles, this time up the right wing. He beat his defender, played a square ball to a wide open Wilson Harris who somehow puts his shot over the bar when he was just a yard or two from goal. It was a horrific miss.
Atlanta had control for the next chunk of the game but couldn’t break through. In the 67th minute SKC II made their first sub, bringing on Jamil Roberts, a draft pick in the 2021 SuperDraft by SKC who signed to SKC II this month. He replaced Mushagalusa.
Roberts made an immediate impact being involved in several plays before blasting a shot off the crossbar in the 73rd minute (he had a bad turnover in that stretch, but it was mostly promising play).
In the 78th minute Atlanta had their best chance of the game with a point blank header that McIntosh was able to block away to keep SKC II ahead. It was one of two big saves he’d ultimately make on the night to keep a clean sheet.
Shortly after Jake Davis replaced J. Rad (who picked up a soft yellow possibly for persistent infringement). Harris also came off for Isaiah LaFlore who has played left back in the past, but also left wing. He actually ended up playing on the right as Rojay Smith moved centrally.
In the 83rd minute Davis got in deep with the keeper but took a heavy touch that would go out for a goal kick when he should have at least had a really dangerous shot chance.
Shortly after that in the 85th minute, in an effort to lock down the game, Graham Smith came on for Cam Duke to put five in the back and preserve the 1-0 lead. Sporting sank into a defensive 5-4-1 with the wingers sitting deeper and R. Smith being alone up top.
It wouldn’t be easy as SKC II really struggle to kill games, but they would hold on for the 1-0 win. Sporting II have a week off as they won’t play until July 24th on the road against the OKC Energy FC.