On Friday night, Sporting Kansas City II and FC Tulsa had a wild night. Sporting KC sent six players on loan to their USL side and five of them started (John Pulskamp, Kaveh Rad, Kayden Pierre, Jake Davis and Ozzie Cisneros) with another (Graham Smith) subbing on. For the Tulsa fans feeling hard done, Davis has one MLS minute, Pierre and Cisneros have zero and K. Rad and Pulskamp have only played sparingly as backups.
The game was a fun one to watch, but it wasn’t without controversy. It would end in a 1-1 draw after a second half goal by right back Kayden Pierre tied it up. It was his first professional goal (and even then the ball appeared to come off his hand seconds before he scored). But the real controversy would come later. First though, the highlights (which don’t give this match any justice — why does USL insist on three minutes or less...).
Let’s Talk about the Called Back Goal
Late in the match, Tulsa scored on a weird play where John Pulskamp collided with an FC Tulsa player outside the box. Pulskamp and Dario Suarez were injured from the collision and there was a long delay (eight minutes of stoppage time long) where the referees were conferring with each other. Ultimately, they took away the Tulsa goal to the dismay of the Tulsa coaches and players (multiple coaches from FC Tulsa received yellow cards in the aftermath).
However, I’m not sure that was the right call. On the play Kayden Pierre is hustling back trying to break up a lopsided counter and he pokes the ball away just before the collision occurs. Neither Pulskamp nor Suarez touched or ever had the ball, but I suppose in an effort to protect the keeper they called it a foul and took what would have been the game winning goal off the board.
It feels about time that SKC II had some luck go their way after this tough season, but on the whole it was a bad night for the refs.
Pierre Making a Case for First Team Minutes
It’s not just the goal, but that sure didn’t hurt. In the last few matches, he’s looked more than ready for the USL. He’s not getting beaten defensively and he’s adding so much to the offense with his attacking dribbling. He’s making these enterprising runs up the field with the ball at his feet that make me just want to see more and more from the kid.
Jaylin Lindsey is supposed to be just a few weeks away from returning, but if Graham Zusi needs a break on a midweek game, I’d be comfortable giving Pierre a shot. I would have never said that a few months ago. Is there a new right back of the future?
A Better Midfield (after subs)
It is wild how good this team looked when they had a more dynamic midfield. They started the game with the Paulo Nagamura special, two non-goal scoring 8s (Christian Duke and Jake Davis) and a defensive midfielder (Petar Cuic). Then Duke got hurt in the second half and another defensive midfielder (Jahon Rad) came on.
Not until Davis was taken off for striker Ropapa Mensah, which allowed Cisneros to drop into the midfield, did SKC II really take over. So the team had Cuic moved up to an 8 (and he’s very capable there), J. Rad at defensive midfielder (love him there) and Ozzie to be the creator. SKC II pushed forward more too, but you can’t tell me that’s not a more effective midfield. Maybe not as defensively sound, but it was sure exciting.
- Isaiah LeFlore was unlucky to be called for an early penalty kick in the match. He’s going to clear the ball and the Tulsa player, who doesn’t have possession, sticks his leg in between the kick and the ball and takes the contact going down. By the letter of the law, I guess it’s a penalty, but it felt kind of soft.
- Former Kansas City Wizards defender Nick Garcia joined Carter Augustine in the booth for the call and he was a delight. I’ve always heard good things about Nick and he did a great job doing commentary. I hope to hear more from him in future games.
- Mataeo Bunbury made his professional debut late in the game. The 16-year-old just signed an Academy contract this week. He became the third member of the Bunbury family to play for Sporting. His father Alex played with the aforementioned Garcia. And Alex’s brother, Mataeo’s uncle, Teal Bunbury was the 4th overall pick in 2010 and plays in MLS to this day.
- Ozzie Cisneros was given a late yellow card for really bad simulation from the Tulsa defender. It had no impact on the game, but the USL needs to go back and suspend players that do that or they’ll just keep doing it. Rescinding Cisneros’ card would be nice too.
- Rojay Smith had a bad night. He consistently wasn’t where he needed to be to finish good passes and he also failed to show any effective passing or shooting on his end. It’s a night he’ll look to forget. Enough of my Smith on Smith crime.