After a bit of a break during the international window, Sporting Kansas City II returned to action on the road against the OKC Energy FC.
Due to a depleted first team lineup due to international absences, injuries and COVID protocols, Sporting Kansas City II fielded a lineup with just two loanees — Kendall McIntosh and Ozzie Cisneros. McIntosh got the start in goal but Cisneros started (and ended) the match on the bench. The team also didn’t have a right back which forced midfielder Jake Davis to assume that role, which he handled well as left winger Bijev is OKC’s most dangerous weapon and he held him in check.
They were also without a striker as Dominic Resetar was the only available striker but he entered the match questionable and ultimately wouldn’t get off the bench. The team’s three wingers who started would rotate in and out of the center forward spot.
2021 SKC SuperDraft picks Matt Constant and Jamil Roberts also started as they are on second team contracts. It was Roberts first start.
The OKC Energy FC fielded a three back and ran out a 3-4-3.
— Energy FC (@EnergyFC) July 24, 2021
Just one change to the XI from the derby win, with @aidsinho getting the nod.@kodai_iida10969 is back from injury to make the bench and Deklan Wynne suits up for the first time!#FullyCharged | #OKCvSKC pic.twitter.com/2U3ZLuod8f
The game got off to a slow start with no attacking threats in the midfield. Jahon Rad played holding mid while Petr Cuic and Christian Duke, which have also played a lot of defensive midfielder this year, were forced to be the “creative” parts of the midfield. Cuic definitely looked like the most creative of the two, though he had more passes not work than work out.
While waiting for the game to find a rhythm, I couldn’t help but notice how bad the turf looked. It was like some cheap carpet just waiting for a boot to get caught in it. Also, the bright pink shorts of OKC’s jerseys didn’t match the tops of OKC which from a distance almost looked brown even though they were pink and green. Up close, they actually look pretty fun. Back to soccer.
Tactically, with that defensive midfield, SKC II were content to sit deep and absorb pressure. They didn’t press the ball until the Energy passed the mid line. Then they would look to hit on the counter which often led to long balls to no one without a striker to hold the ball up.
The games first big chance came in the 23rd minute on a Roberts corner that found Cuic, who touched it Danny Barbir who hit it first time, but right at the keeper from point blank range.
The first yellow card of the game came in the 26th minute when OKC were on a slow motion counter attack and Duke came in hard from behind to pick up a deserved card. In the 28th minute Oklahoma City had their first dangerous moment when they got in deep on a long ball over the top from the center back to Chavez but McIntosh came up big as he charged out and made the kick save! Just after that, Sam Rogers, the OKC right center back, stuck a foot out and tripped/kicked Roberts to earn the first yellow of the night for the Energy FC.
In the 35th minute SKC II threatened again with a great ball over the top to Roberts who blasted a shot forcing a save from the keeper before the Energy were forced to head it out for a corner.
Late in the first half Sporting made a change in tactics moving Rojay Smith to striker and Enoch Mushagalusa out to the right wing. It worked out really well as for the last 10 minutes of the half Mushagalusa started causing problems. Unfortunately, though he consistently was beating his man, his crosses were either cut out or he’d ultimately turn the ball over. Regardless it gave the team a bit of a spark.
In the dying moments of the first half McIntosh came up big to keep it scoreless on a rocket of a shot from outside the box.
When the second half got underway Sporting KC II were definitely getting the better of the action with consistent pressure on OKC. After another Mushagalusa shot was deflected into the side of the net a fascinating stat was delivered that he leads the league in shots. Kind of wild considering how ineffective SKC II have been at scoring that in such a huge league he has the most shots. Part of that could be he is playing pretty much every game.
Oklahoma City had some chances of their own but Kendall McIntosh consistently came up big making stops.
It took until the 81st minute before Paulo Nagamura finally made a sub (after OKC had made four). Aljaz Dzankic replaced Cuic which appeared to move SKC II into a five back set to try and hold on for the 0-0 draw. Mushagalusa played alone up top with the other wingers dropping into more wide midfielder roles.
The next sub came in the 85th minute when Rad was replaced by Jayvin Van Deventer in a like for like move. Shortly after Smith came off for young Coby Jones. All the subs seemed designed to bleed minutes off the clock instead of going for the win despite Sporting KC II being at the bottom of the table.
Despite it getting a little ugly late, SKC II would hold on for a draw. They are back in action midweek against Louisville City when they return home to Children’s Mercy Park on July 28th at 7:00 PM.