INDIANAPOLIS – Bailey Sparks scored a stoppage-time winner as Sporting Kansas City II took a 2-1 victory against Indy Eleven at Lucas Oil Stadium on Saturday night to keep its hosts from clinching a place in the postseason on Wednesday night. Indy will now need either a win or a draw in its final game of the regular season on Saturday night as it visits Saint Louis FC, which sits one point back in third place and will need a win to advance to the postseason on home turf.
Looking for its third victory against SKC II of the season, Indy almost got out to a flying start in the third minute as Ilija Ilic slipped a pass through two defenders for Tyler Pasher in the left side of the penalty area, only for Pasher to fire his finish over the crossbar. The hosts created the first big look at goal in the five minutes later as a counterattack saw Ilic release Carl Haworth into space down the right. Haworth delivered an accurate cross to Pasher, but his finish to the right corner of the net was brilliantly turned wide of the post by SKC II goalkeeper Remi Prieur.
Sporting’s Tyler Freeman also tested Indy goalkeeper Evan Newton with a shot from the edge of the penalty area in the 16th minute that Newton parried away to safety, while Pasher got another opportunity just before the half-hour mark but was again denied by a low save by Prieur. The Austrian shot-stopper then made another key save to keep a powerful header by Haworth from finding the net after a low cross by Cameron Lindley from the right, and was also alert moments later as a cross by Haworth deflected on target off SKC II defender Danny Barbir only for Prieur to make another save.
After their goalkeeper’s heroics, the visitors then grabbed the lead four minutes before halftime. A ball to the left flank found Fredlin Mompremier, and he stared down his defender before delivering a clever chipped cross that allowed Wilson Harris to head home his eighth goal of the regular season into the left corner.
Indy hit back almost immediately as the halftime introduction of Andrew Carleton paid a quick dividend for the hosts. The U.S. youth international played a good ball from midfield that sent Pasher out to the left flank, and then broke forward to the penalty area where Pasher found him with a return pass that Carleton controlled and fired into the bottom-right corner of the net for his first goal of the season.
SKC II almost found a response just before the hour-mark as Harris got in behind the Indy defense, but his run was read well by Newton, who quickly came off his line to close down the shooting angle and save with his chest. The visitors threatened again moments later as Mompremier fired a shot just over the crossbar from 12 yards after the ball hopped up after he tried to control.
Indy had a big chance to go ahead with 14 minutes to go as Ayoze delivered a fine angled pass from the left in midfield over the top to Nick Moon in the right channel, but Moon’s finish found the outside side netting as his angle narrowed before the shot. Carleton then sliced a shot wide of the right post from the top of the penalty area six minutes later as the hosts continued to push forward.
But after Sporting withstood Indy’s late pressure, it grabbed a second victory at Lucas Oil Stadium this season as Bailey fired home a turning finish to mark his debut with a goal, giving Saint Louis FC life for the final weekend of the season.
USLChampionship.com Man of the Match
Remi Prieur, Sporting Kansas City II – Prieur ended the night with seven saves, including key stops in the first half to keep his side on level terms, to help SKC II to its road victory.