Through the opening 25 minutes of Sunday’s MLS NEXT Pro Week 7 Game of the Week, it was the same story for Sporting KC II, which came in with only one win through its opening six matches. For the final 65 minutes though, Benny Feilhaber’s side flipped the switch and scored four unanswered goals to celebrate a second league victory of 2022.

Mataeo Bunbury scored a first-half brace before Cole McLagan and Julian Vazquez added second-half tallies of their own in a comeback 4-2 victory at Rock Chalk Park. Real Monarchs midfielder Tyrone Mondi registered a brace for the visitors, contributing his first MLS NEXT Pro goals in the defeat.

It was all Real Monarchs through the opening 25 minutes with Mondi calling his number on both occasions. The 25-year-old opened the scoring in the seventh minute, receiving a pass at the top of the Sporting KC II box and driving a low shot into the bottom-right corner. An SKC II turnover deep in its own side of the field, allowing Mondi to take advantage.

Mondi and Real Monarchs’ impressive first half continued as the South African native scored his second goal. Marcus Vazquez’s over-the-top ball snuck between both of SKC II’s centerbacks, allowing Mondi to get on the end of it. The midfielder snuck a shot underneath McIntosh and into the back of the net for a 2-0 Real Monarchs advantage.

SKC II cut the deficit to one goal before halftime after getting a bit of luck on its side. Bunbury’s effort in the box deflected up in the air after Gavin Beavers made the original save, but the ball ended up sneaking over the goal-line before Beavers could catch it.

Bunbury equalized before halftime, heading home his second goal of the first half. Cade Thompson’s cross from the left wing was redirected into the bottom-right corner by Bunbury, giving the 16-year-old his first MLS NEXT Pro brace.

With SKC II picking up offensive pressure in the second half, the eventual game-winning goal came off of a set-piece situation. Collin Fernandez’s deadly cross from the left wing was hammered home by substitute Cole McLagan, swinging momentum into SKC II’s favor for a 3-2 lead.

Not long after taking the lead, SKC II capped an impressive comeback on home soil by icing the victory. Julian Vazquez handed SKC II’s its fourth unanswered goal, dancing his way through a pair of Real Monarchs defenders before scoring against his former club.

Real Monarchs tried to fight back to force a shootout, but could not break down McIntosh and the SKC II backline, eventually suffering a fourth defeat of the season.

Both teams hit the road in Week 8 action as Real Monarchs visit Tacoma Defiance and Sporting KC II visits Timbers2.

The Story: Mataeo Bunbury helps spark SKC II to comeback victory

Mataeo Bunbury was held in check for most of the first half at Rock Chalk Park on Sunday, but the 16-year-old eventually broke through to help Sporting KC II fight back for a comeback victory.

Bunbury, the son of longtime MLS forward Teal, registered his first MLS NEXT Pro brace in Sunday’s 4-2 result. Not only did Bunbury help SKC II fight back in the first half, but his abilities with both his feet and his head did the damage for Benny Feilhaber’s offensive unit.

His opening goal came with a bit of luck as Gavin Beavers was unable to race back and keep Bunbury’s shot from trickling over the goal-line. However, his strong header just before halftime truly showed his awareness in the 18-yard box, as Bunbury raced across the box and flicked his header into the right corner of Beavers’ goal. 

Bunbury has a perfect 100% scoring rate this season when it comes to making his shots-on-target count. He’s also drawn six fouls from his wide position, giving opposing left-backs a lot to handle when he has the ball or not. 

SKC II is now up to seventh place in the Western Conference standings and will surely rely on Bunbury’s goal-scoring prowess going into the latter stages of the regular season.