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Memphis 901 FC earns yet another win on the road

901 FC beats Sporting Kansas City II to extend its number of consecutive unbeaten matches to five.
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Memphis 901 FC (5-4-4) earned its second consecutive victory in the form of a 1-2 win against Sporting Kansas City II (3-9-5) Sunday afternoon. Elevating himself into the Golden Boot conversation, Kyle Murphy scored his sixth goal in as many matches as the forward put Memphis ahead in the 12’. Forward Michael Salazar cemented the victory on the road with a headed goal in the 48’. With the win, Memphis 901 FC sits in a playoff position and claims its longest unbeaten streak in league play since its founding. 

Early action favored the home side as Sporting Kansas City II maintained possession of the ball. Capitalizing on its limited number of early chances, Memphis 901 FC struck in the 12’ as midfielder Andre Reynolds tightroped a ball down the pitch to find Kyle Murphy near the halfway line. Murphy outpaced his SKC counterpart to send a ball past the ‘keeper at close range and give Memphis the lead early on. 

While Memphis now sits at 5-0-1 when scoring first, that record was put on the line when Kansas City was awarded a penalty not long after Murphy’s score. Stepping up to the spot, Wilson Harris converted the penalty in the 25’ to knot things up at 1-1. Sporting Kansas City II peppered goalkeeper Kyle Morton with shots as the home side tallied 24 during the match. Morton and the Memphis defense stood tall as they recorded four saves and seven blocked shots, respectively.

The match-winner came from forward Michael Salazar not long after the second half started, as the Belizean headed in a perfectly weighted cross from well beyond the box courtesy of defender Mark Segbers in the 48’. As Salazar notched his third goal of the year and Murphy his seventh, Memphis 901 FC is 2-0-0 when both forwards score in the same match. With several defensive substitutions in the waning minutes of the match, Memphis thwarted every Sporting II attack to hang on to the one-goal advantage for the remainder of the contest. 

Extending its number of consecutive unbeaten matches to five, Memphis 901 FC equals its longest unbeaten run in club history (May 4 to May 29, 2019) and claims its longest unbeaten stretch in USL Championship play. The win also marks the first time Memphis has been above .500 in its history. 

Individually, Memphis’ leading scorer, Kyle Murphy, now finds himself at a tie for eighth in the league with seven goals on the year. Out of the eleven other players in the top eight of league scoring, Murphy has played in the fewest number of matches. Michael Salazar’s game-winner gives the forward his third goal of the year, and Memphis is unbeaten when Salazar finds the back of the net. Finally, Kyle Morton’s four saves propel the goalkeeper to sole possession of fourth in club history with 18 saves.

“It was good overall,” Head Coach Ben Pirmann said of the victory. “Anytime you go on the road and get three points is great. They [Sporting Kansas City II] dropped eight or nine guys down from the first team. They were a tough opponent, but we did well. It was good to have the two strikers each get a goal, and everybody involved played their hearts out.” 

Memphis 901 FC will have one more road match before returning to AutoZone Park for two matches in one week. Next weekend’s match on the road against OKC Energy FC will kick off at Taft Stadium at 7:30 p.m. CT and can be seen on CW30 Memphis and ESPN+. A win or draw on Saturday will give Memphis its longest unbeaten run in club history and further cement the club above the playoff line.