In the inaugural week of MLS NEXT Pro, it took a penalty shootout to decide the winner of Sunday's match between Sporting KC II and Colorado Rapids 2. Ending 90 minutes level at 1-1, Rapids 2 took the win after beating SKC II 4-2 on penalties (after just four rounds).
Sporting II still comes home with a point while Rapids 2 get an additional point for their shootout win.
Seven players made their SKC II debuts. The only loan from the first team was goalkeeper John Pulskamp.
If you joined in tuning in for the SKC II opener, we learned that Rapids 2 has set an extremely low bar for MLS NEXT Pro broadcasts. It did seem as though Colorado controlled the first half, keeping 66% of the possession and outshooting SKC II 10-2.
Sporting II had the first big chance of the game about five minutes in. After forcing a turnover, the ball fell to SKC II’s Bagayoko who was unable to convert a glorious opportunity.
In the 20th minute, Colorado’s first opportunity came to Dillon Serna, who had shot his shot blocked, sailing out for a corner kick.
On the ensuing corner, John Pulskamp was called into action as he made a tremendous save to reject Rapids 2 of the opener before jumping on the ball to deny a rebound.
Pulskamp was called on once again to keep the score level in the 38th minute. The SKC loanee tipped a shot from a free kick wide.
Colorado reportedly had another chance in the 42nd minute that was deflected out for a corner kick, which was not caught on the live stream but reported by the commentator (Editor: An unfortunate trend throughout the broadcast). On the corner kick, Pulskamp made a relatively comfortable save.
In the 43rd minute, SKC broke away on the counter. Bagayoko’s attempt was deflected wide for SKC II’s first corner of the game.
Colorado found the opener in the 62nd minute. Yosuke Hanya’s rocket from about 20 yards out left Pulskamp with no chance.
SKC II did look dangerous every now and then but really didn’t create much going forward.
The visitors eventually pulled level in the 79th minute after a cross from Julian Vázquez on the left was knocked in by Tijani Fattah. That went on to be the only shot on target for SKC II and it wasn’t met with solid contact.
Neither team was able to break the draw, sending the game to MLS NEXT Pro’s second-ever penalty shootout.
Round 1: SKC — saved (Spencer Glass); COL — goal (Sebastian Anderson)
Round 2: SKC — saved (Josh Coan); COL — goal (Dillon Serna)
Round 3: SKC — goal (Collin Fernandez); COL — goal (Anthony Markanich)
Round 4: SKC — goal (Esai Easley); COL — goal (Darren Yapi)
While unable to make a save in the shootout, Pulskamp starred for SKC II, taking credit for five saves. Sporting II captain Collin Fernandez showed some guts when he converted a panenka penalty after his side missed the previous two.
Sunday's match ended with Colorado having the edge in most categories, though SKC II did improve in the second half and ended the game with 44% possession. SKC II got outshot 15-5 and Rapids 2 won eight corners compared to SKC II’s two. Sporting II ended the night winning 13 tackles while Rapids 2 won five tackles.
Sporting KC II: John Pulskamp; Spencer Glass; Jahon Rad; Aljaz Dzankic; Cole McLagan (Matthew Fisher 57’); Nicholas Pendleton (Tijani Fatah 70’); Jayin Van Deventer (Easai Easley 46’); Collin Fernandez (C); Bakary Bagayoko (Mataeo Bunbury 46’); Rauf Salifu (Josh Coan 57’); Julian Vázquez
Subs Not Used: Ethan Bandre; Joseph Addo Teteh; Cade Thomson; Debakwi Yomba
Colorado Rapids 2: Abraham Rodriguez (C); Omar Gómez; Michael Edwards; Anthony Markanich; Sebastian Anderson; Dillon Serna; Yosuke Hanya (Vladimir Walent 87’); Phillip Makaya (Connor Miller 81’); Robinson Aguirre; Darren Papi; Dantouma Toure (Nicholas Legendre 81’)
Subs Not Used: Steve Flores; Daniel Garcia; Isaac Nehme; Joaquin Torres; Jackson Travis
COL — Yosuke Hanya (Dantouma Toure) 61’
SKC — Tijani Fatah (Julian Vázquez) 79’
COL — Phillip Mayaka (yellow card; foul) 14’
SKC — John Pulskamp (yellow card; argument) 62’
COL — Darren Yapi (yellow card; argument) 62’
SKC — Mataeo Bunbury (yellow card; foul) 76’
SKC — Matthew Fisher (yellow card; foul) 81’
COL — Nicholas Legendre (yellow card; foul) 89’