Last weekend Sporting Kansas City’s U-17s and U-15s traveled to Salt Lake City, UT for a trio of preseason friendlies against fellow MLS NEXT competitors in the Rocky Mountain Cup. Gaining valuable minutes before the second half of the MLS NEXT season, the U-17s and U-15s faced off against Real Colorado, the Colorado Rapids and Real Salt Lake from Friday through Sunday.
“It was good to break up our preseason with a trip to Salt Lake City for competitive games against some very good teams.” Said U-17 head coach Chris O’Neal. “Each opponent provided a different type of challenge for our players, which will be a beneficial experience for both tactical and physical preparation as we are still gearing up for the second half of the season.”
Both teams kicked off the weekend with spectacular performances against Real Colorado. In the first match of the evening, Aiden Benitez netted the lone score of the contest, converting a late penalty kick and firing SKC’s U-17s out in front.
Sporting’s U-15s showed out in their first appearance, cruising to a 4-1 triumph. A Real Colorado own goal opened the scoring before Cristiano Delgado found the back of the net to double the lead. Miguel Romero then scored the third before the Colorado side’s one and only goal. Romero punctuated the night with SKC’s fourth goal and his second.
The next set of matches saw the U-17s fight hard for a 1-1 draw against the Colorado Rapids. After Luis Cruz-Ayala snagged a goal for Sporting, the Rapids drew level with less than 10 minutes to go. The match ended level at one despite two tantalizing chances for Sporting in the final ticks of the contest. The U-15s fell 3-0 to the Rapids in their second bout in Salt Lake City.
On the final day, both Sporting and Real Salt Lake earned 1-0 results. Sporting’s U-15s were on the wrong side of the 1-0 scoreline while the U-17s punctuated the Rocky Mountain Invitational with a thrilling victory. In the waning moments of the match, with one of the final kicks, Ryan Reid fired home from inside the 18 for the match-winning goal. The U-17s finished the job and left Salt Lake City with two wins and a draw, allowing just one goal throughout the course of the cup.
The Sporting Kansas City Academy's preseason rolls on with back-to-back friendlies against the St. Louis CITY Academy. The 2022-23 MLS NEXT season will resume later this month with four major events remaining on the schedule including the 2023 Generation adidas Cup in April, MLS NEXT Flex in May, the MLS NEXT Cup Playoffs and MLS NEXT Cup Showcase in June and the MLS NEXT All-Star Game on July 18.
Fans can follow everything going on in the Academy by following @SKCAcademy on Twitter, Instagram or by heading to the Academy Website.
About MLS NEXT
MLS NEXT is a new paradigm for player development, launched in 2020 to transform youth soccer in North America. Founded on a collaborative approach to governance and a commitment to innovation, MLS NEXT players have access to the highest level of competition, training and personal development opportunities that will prepare them for their futures, both in soccer and in life. Membership for the 2022-23 season includes 137 clubs, 628 teams and over 13,000 players across the U.S. and Canada. Official partners of MLS NEXT include adidas, Allstate, DoorDash, and the University of South Carolina. For more information about MLS NEXT, visit www.mlssoccer.com/mlsnext.