Week 7 of MLS NEXT Pro has arrived and the Game of the Week is a clash between Western Conference foes Sporting KC II and Real Monarchs at Rock Chalk Park in Lawrence, Kansas on Sunday. The action is set to kick off at 2 p.m. ET.
How to Watch
This and every match will be available to stream live and free of charge on MLSNEXTPro.com.
MLS NEXT Pro has teamed up with automated camera technology provider Spiideo to deliver live streams of all MLS NEXT Pro matches, ensuring every game this season will be available for viewing on MLSNEXTPro.com.
The matchup is this week's MLS NEXT Pro Game of the Week, so viewers will experience a multi-camera production for this match.
Sporting KC II enters Week 7 looking to break its four-game losing streak and win its first game of the season. It’s been far from an ideal start for first-year head coach Benny Feilhaber and his men as the team currently sits ninth in the Western Conference with a 1-4-1 record.
In order to get back on track, SKC II’s offense has to score on a more consistent basis. In its six games played, the team only has four goals to its name with two of them being shootout goals in week one. The team from Kansas has also been shut out by opponents four times with the most recent coming against North Texas SC last week.
“Goals decide games and when you miss a penalty, miss some other chances, give up the first shot on goal as a goal and you get a red card and you're chasing the game, that's how soccer is,” Feilhaber said after a 2-0 loss to North Texas SC. “You get punished very severely in soccer if you don't take care of the moments that are in front of you. We haven't been doing that and it's showing in the results.”
All that being said, SKC II will host Real Monarchs who have conceded 12 goals this season, tied for worst in the league. If there were a time to deliver the home fans a first-ever MLS NEXT Pro win and net several goals, it would be this week.
Players to Watch:
Collin Fernandez, midfielder - As SKC II captain, Fernandez leads the team with two goals in all competitions and has an assist. Look for the dynamic midfielder to lead the charge for the home side.
TJ Fatah, forward - After scoring his first MLS NEXT Pro goal last week, can Fatah do it again? He’s going to have to be in and around the goals if SKC II is to break its losing streak.
Guy Michaeli, forward - Michaeli has started upfront for SKC II the last two matches after signing with the club two weeks ago. Look for the big number nine to open his goal-scoring account this Sunday.
Real Monarchs also come into this week’s matchup with its own struggles as the club is winless through five games so far this season. The club is bottom of the Western Conference with only two points coming from draws that ended in shootout defeats.
The key for Real Monarchs to bounce back from last week’s loss and grab its first win is to defend better. Currently, the club is tied for the worst defensive record with 12 goals conceded. Its 2-0 defeat to St. Louis CITY2 was a prime example of the leaky defending costing the team as both goals came late in the second half.
The return of goalkeeper Gavin Beavers and defender Luis Rivera surely will remedy some of Real Monarchs’ defensive woes. Both players missed the last two Real Monarchs games following call-ups to the U.S. Youth National Teams.
Players to Watch:
Pedro Fonseca, forward - The lone bright spot for Real Monarchs has been the stellar play of Fonseca as he has four goals. Last week the forward was neutralized so look for him to make amends this week.
Golden Mafwenta, defender - Mafwenta started his first game for Real Monarchs last week after Czech Republic club MFK Vyskov. The defender appeared stout against St. Louis CITY2, but his side needs his performances to be consistent if they stand a chance of winning.
Aziz Kayondo, defender - Kayondo is another new signing from last week that is looking to make a mark from the jump. The defender from the Ugandan side Vipers SC may not start but might get playing time in this match.