USL Championship Regular Season- Matchday 21
Sporting Kansas City II vs Indy Eleven
Sunday, August 22, 4:00 p.m. CST
Where: Children’s Mercy Park, Kansas City, Kansas
How to Watch: ESPN+
Sporting KC II will host the Indy Eleven on Sunday for the second time this season. On a five-game losing streak, SKC II is looking for a rare positive result at home.
After some promising signs last year, where they went 5-10-1 and pushed some other good teams with a tough schedule, Paulo Nagamura and SKC II have severely disappointed in 2021 with one home win and an overall record of 3-12-5. They have occupied that last place spot in the Central Division for quite some time now and currently trail Memphis 901 FC by seven points for second-worst.
SKC II have lost their last five and are winless from their last six. Their last win came on July 10 against Atlanta United 2. At home, they are 1-6-2 with a -9 goal difference.
SKC II is coming from a 4-1 loss at home against Atlanta United 2. With some careless giveaways and conceding the first four goals, Graham Smith headed in a goal in the 86th minute from a set-piece for a late consolation.
Sporting II also enter this weekend as the worst defensive team in the USL Championship with 42 goals conceded and a -18 goal difference.
There is some good news for SKC II as forward Ropapa Mensah (groin) has been upgraded to questionable for the first time in over two months. Defender Travian Sousa (hamstring) remains out.
Enoch Mushagalusa remains the team’s leading scorer with six goals in 20 appearances. Followed by Rojay Smith with four goals in 19 appearances.
Players to Watch:
- Boubacar Traore - On loan from Budapest Honved, Traore could make his SKC II debut on Sunday. It will be interesting to see what Traore will bring to SKC II for the rest of this season.
- Ropapa Mensah - Listed as questionable, Mensah’s first minutes in over two months could come off the bench on Sunday. A proven USL forward, Mensah is still looking to score his first with SKC II after failing to hit the back of the net in his first seven appearances.
- Petar Cuic - After being pulled in the first half of last game for a bad giveaway, will he return to the starting XI or will he settle on the bench? It will be interesting to see how he and Nagamura respond on Sunday and the rest of the season.
Previously losing to Indy 2-1 away on May 22 and 2-1 at home on June 20, SKC II is looking for their first-ever home win over the Indy Eleven. Both sides will meet for a fourth and final time on September 11 in Indy.
Occupying the last playoff spot in the division with a 6-8-4 record, Indy Eleven’s season has been up-and-down.
They enter Sunday losing three of their last five, including a 4-1 loss on Wednesday against Loudoun United, the USL affiliate to D.C. United. Karl Ouimette got Indy on the board with a consolation in the 78th minute from a corner kick.
Interim manager Max Rogers is hoping to do enough to hold on to a playoff position, which is currently a five-team fight in the Central Division with just four points separating the seventh place Memphis 901 FC and third place Atlanta United 2.
Players to Watch:
- Gordon Wild - Has been an SKC II killer this year. Assisted both goals in Indy’s first win over SKC II in Indy and scored the match-winner over SKC II in KC in June. Leads Indy with four assists and 31 chances created. Has also added two goals.
- Jordan Hamilton - Joint top scorer with Manuel Arteaga. Four goals in 17 appearances. Has gone more than a month without a goal.
- Eric Dick - Former SKC keeper has been benched since a miserable performance against Atlanta United 2, in which he let in six goals in a 6-2 loss. Has kept one clean sheet in four games this year on loan from the Columbus Crew. Could return to the starting XI as he returns “home.”
Predicted Starting XI
With the first team in Minnesota on Saturday afternoon, there could be more loan opportunities for SKC II on Sunday depending on how much Peter Vermes chooses to rotate.
I predicted a season debut for goalkeeper Remi Prieur, as well as loans from the first team for Amadou Dia, Kaveh Rad and Jake Davis. Petar Cuic starts from the bench with Jahon Rad in his spot with Ozzie Cisneros on loan. I also have Boubacar Traore getting his USL debut as Jamil Roberts starts on the left in place of Enoch Mushagalusa.
Both teams are coming from bad losses, but the difference has been the way these two teams respond to losses. With five straight losses, SKC II has made it a routine. Aside from a three-game stretch in June, Indy has responded to losses with positive results.
I think Indy will come away with a 3-1 win.