CITY2 extended its unbeaten streak to ten straight games
St Louis CITY2 drew cross-state rival Sporting Kansas City II 1-1 on Sunday, September 24 in the team’s final match of the 2023 MLS NEXT Pro regular season. After a scoreless first half, midfielder Faysal Bettache put CITY2 ahead before SKC II notched the equalizer. The home side earned the extra point with a 4-3 win in the ensuing shootouts.
After a calm first twenty minutes, SKC II tested goalkeeper Christian Olivares with an on-target header off a corner kick, but Olivares swiftly dropped to his right for the save. The home side worked into dangerous positioning again in the 33rd minute, but Olivares punched the shot away to keep the match level.
Ahead of halftime, SKC II put the pressure on once more. Forward Pau Vidal looked to have a one-on-one scoring chance, but Olivares charged off his line and scooped up the ball as Vidal tried a skill move to work around him.
Out of the break, the home side earned a free kick just outside the box and sent a shot on frame off the restart, but Olivares handled it to preserve the deadlock. In the 65th minute, the CITY2 goalkeeper came up big once again, blocking a point-blank attempt from Vidal.
Bettache put CITY2 ahead in the 66th minute off a pass from midfielder Max Schneider, curling a shot from distance into the bottom left corner of the goal. It was Bettache’s seventh goal in the last seven games, giving him eleven goal contributions on the season (9 goals, 2 assists).
SKC II equalized in the 74th minute through a goal from defender Robert Voloder. From there, the teams played to a 1-1 draw. In the first round of the ensuing penalty shootouts, midfielder Larsen Hackworth had his attempt saved. Both sides converted their attempts in the second and third rounds before both midfielder Aaron Heard and Voloder missed the mark in the fourth round. Defender Josh Maher struck true on his attempt in the next round, but defender Lucas Rosa answered to secure the 4-3 shootout victory for SKC II.
With the draw, CITY2 is now unbeaten over its last ten matches (beginning with a 1-1 draw against San Jose Earthquakes II on July 23). CITY2 will enter the MLS NEXT Pro Playoffs as the fifth seed in the Western Conference.
CITY2 begins its quest for a second consecutive Western Conference crown as the 2023 MLS NEXT Pro Playoffs get underway. Stay on the lookout for details regarding the opponent, date, time and location of CITY2’s first-round matchup.
Christian Olivares, Nolan McGuire, Michael Wentzel ©, Josh Maher, Ezra Armstrong, Sergio Rivas (Aaron Heard 65’), Max Schneider, John Klein, Wan Kuzain (Dida Armstrong 65’), Faysal Bettache (Larsen Hackworth 78’), Ryley Gibbs (Mykhi Joyner 46’)
SUBSTITUTES NOT USED:
Eric Walker, Lucas Bartlett, Caden Glover, Stanislav Koval, AJ Palazzolo