Sporting KC U-15 goalkeeper Misael Mena saves a penalty kick
The Sporting Kansas City Academy U-15s and U-17s concluded the opening round of 2019-20 Generation adidas Cup qualifying on Monday at Swope Soccer Village with a pair of closely contested matches against the San Jose Earthquakes.
The U-15s prevailed in a dramatic penalty shootout following a 1-1 draw in regulation and now sit atop the Group B standings in a three-way tie for first place. The U17s fell 1-0 on a first half penalty kick converted by San Jose Earthquakes first team forward Cade Cowell.
The Sporting Kansas City U-15s took an early 1-0 lead over the San Jose Earthquakes on Nati Clarke's stunning strike from distance in the third minute. Clarke, who scored a stunning free kick late on in Saturday's 2-2 draw with Seattle Sounders FC, beat the San Jose goalkeeper from beyond 30 yards with a shot that kissed off the inside of the post before settling into the back of the net.
The visitors would equalize in the 27th minute through Benjamin Asiaba and the 70-minute match would stay deadlocked at 1-1 through the end of regulation. While both teams received one point for the draw, a crucial second point was up for grabs in the ensuing penalty shootout.
San Jose and Sporting each came through in the clutch through the first four rounds with neither side blinking as Edgar Bazan, Gage Akalu, Kelly Kipruto and Nati Clarke all leveled the score in the shootout for SKC after successful San Jose conversions. However, in the fifth and final round, Sporting goalkeeper Misael Mena produced the decisive save to deny Brian Garcia Sanchez, setting the stage for Jack Lucas to bury the last kick from the spot to lift Sporting into a three-way tie with San Jose and Seattle in the Group B standings for 2019-20 GA Cup qualifying.
Despite the home field advantage at Swope Soccer Village, the Sporting Kansas City U-17s were held scoreless for a third straight match in GA Cup qualifying on Monday.
The lone goal in a 1-0 loss to San Jose came in the 21st minute as Alex Umana was whistled for bringing down Casey Walls while battling for position on a corner kick. Cade Cowell, TopDrawerSoccer.com's highest-ranked player for the Class of 2022 who signed an MLS Homegrown Player contract in January at the age of 15, stepped to the spot and calmly finished the penalty attempt.
Anthony Guevara recorded the clean sheet for San Jose to push the Earthquakes into third place in the Group B standings for 2019-20 GA Cup qualifying, two points back of LA Galaxy in pursuit of a coveted top-two finish.
The next stage of regional qualifying for the 2019-20 GA Cup will take place over Presidents' Day weekend from Feb. 14-17 at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, Calif. Both teams will face Minnesota (Feb. 14) and Chicago Fire (Feb. 15) to close out round-robin play in Group B of their respective age divisions.
At the U-17 level, the top two teams in Group B will advance to play in Division 1 of the 2020 Generation adidas Cup Finals at the Toyota Soccer Center in Frisco, Texas. The third and fourth placed teams will play in Division 2, while the fifth and sixth placed teams will play in Division 3.
At the U-15 age level, the winner of Group B will advance to the Final Event to compete in an eight-team international challenge. To learn more, visit MLSsoccer.com.