SKC II returning to Lawrence for playoff match Friday
photo by: Chance Parker
After a two-match September sojourn playing home games in Kansas City, Missouri, Sporting Kansas City’s developmental club is back in Lawrence for its most important match of the season.
SKC II, which went 7-2-3 with a pair of shootout wins during its lengthy stint in Lawrence during the regular season — the second year in a row it has played at Rock Chalk Park — will host Austin FC II there at 7 p.m. Friday.
SKC II had edged out ATXFC II for the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference with a home shootout win over St. Louis City 2 on Sunday.
In the MLS Next Pro playoff format, the top team in each conference gets a first-round bye, and the second and third seeds get to pick their opponents from the fourth- through seventh-place teams. No. 2 Tacoma Defiance picked No. 7 Houston Dynamo 2, as expected, but SKC II broke from the format by selecting No. 4 ATXFC II, a team that did not win in its last six matches but was strong throughout the year.
“Scared money don’t make money,” SKC II manager Benny Feilhaber said in a video the league put out announcing the selections.
Representatives of other teams said in the video they were surprised by the selection; St. Louis City 2 Sporting Director Lutz Pfannenstiel said he had already booked a bus to Kansas. But Feilhaber chose a team that, while close to SKC II in the rankings, had only earned one point against SKC II in two meetings (SKC II won in a shootout in April, then outright on the road in August).
The playoffs consist of three rounds followed by the MLS Next Pro Cup on Oct. 22.
Pau Vidal is the club’s leading scorer with 11 goals on the year, followed by Ethan Bryant with eight. Josh Coan has a team-high eight assists, and John Pulskamp has been the primary goalkeeper down the stretch.
SKC II tied for the second-highest number of goals scored in MLS Next Pro with 60, but ATXFC II allowed a league-low 23.
The Community Blood Center of Greater Kansas City is hosting a blood drive at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas, home of Sporting Kansas City, from noon to 6 p.m. Friday. Participants will get a free ticket to the SKC II playoff match in Lawrence.