A defensive battle played out in Kansas between MNUFC2 and Sporting Kansas City II on Saturday night, but a lone late goal by SKC II would give the home team all three points despite multiple saves made throughout the match by Minnesota goalkeeper Fred Emmings.
It was a back-and-forth first half between Minnesota and SKC where both sides primarily fought for possession and used that possession more tactically. From the build-up, both the Twos and Kansas City had a few moments of potential breakthrough.
First, Loons’ goalkeeper Fred Emmings made a key save in the 23rd minute on a close-range shot. Just two minutes later, MNUFC2 midfielder Zaydan Bello made a run towards goal, taking a shot about 25 yards out that was on-target, eventually seeing the SKC keeper make the fingertip save to keep the game even at 0-0.
Before halftime in the 44th minute, defender Britton Fischer made a run back to the defensive line and stopped a Kansas City run, eventually leading into a scoreless first half.
The game remained a defensive battle throughout the second half, and SKC II’s attack was difficult to contain at times. Early on in the 54th minute, Emmings made yet another close-range kick-save to keep the match scoreless, while end-to-end play continued between both teams.
In the 79th minute, Kansas City’s Ethan Bryant sent a through-ball to Alenis Vargas, who then dribbled and found space in the six-yard box, slipping his shot past Emmings and scoring the eventual game-winning goal.
But MNUFC2 did not exit the match without a fighting chance and saw two close opportunities come their way before full time. First in the 84th minute, midfielder Emmanuel Iwe connected with Bello atop the keeper’s box where his shot missed just barely to the left of the post. Then in the fifth minute of added stoppage time, defender Geremy Rodas sent a high ball into the far end of the six-yard box, with midfielder Molik Jesse Khan’s header being fingertip-saved over the crossbar. The match ended at 1-0 in favor of the Kansas City hosts.
With the loss, MNUFC2 sit in sixth place in MLS NEXT Pro Western Conference regular-season action with a 9-8-6 record (W-L-D) and 36 points.
MNUFC2 will next return home to take on the Tacoma Defiance on Friday, August 25 at the National Sports Center Stadium in Blaine, Minnesota at 7:00 p.m. CT. The match can be streamed on MLSNEXTPro.com.
0-1 SKC – Alenis Vargas, assisted by Ethan Bryant (79’)
Caution, MIN – Britton Fischer (6’)
Caution, MIN – Cedrik Gbo (18’)
Caution, SKC – Nassim Mekideche (63’)
Caution, SKC – John Pulskamp (90’+4’)
Caution, MIN – Rory O’Driscoll (90’+5’)
12/13 – MNUFC2 won 12 of its 13 tackle attempts against SKC II
4 & 3 – Defender Geremy Rodas led the team with four clearances and three interceptions
TEAM LEADERS (Updated through August 19)
Goals – Diogo Pacheco, Kameron Lacey (8)
Assists – Diogo Pacheco (4)
Saves – Fred Emmings (61)
Wins – Fred Emmings (7)
Shutouts – Fred Emmings, Alec Smir (3)