The preseason concluded last Saturday as the Sporting Kansas City Academy traveled to Boonville, MO for three friendlies against the St. Louis CITY Academy. Sporting KC’s U-19s, U-17s and U-15s all earned results on the day in a rather exhilarating day of soccer.
At 11 a.m. CT, the U-19s kicked off the first of the three friendlies. A back-and-forth battle produced a handful of early chances for both sides, however, it would be St. Louis who took the advantage, snagging a one-goal lead off a quick counterattack.
Sporting did not go without their fair share of chances in the first half as corner after corner was served into the area by Zahir Dyke and Cielo Tschantret. CITY was able to repel every service from the corner flag in the first half, but SKC did not waiver.
On the other side of halftime, St. Louis doubled their lead. Showing their resilience, Sporting picked up the intensity and with less than 20 minutes left in the contest, began to apply more pressure on the opposition.
Once stoppage time rolled around Sporting’s high press yielded yet another corner attempt. From the right side of the pitch, Tschantret whipped in an offering into a crowd of players. Defender Isaac Dalhart rose above the pack, got a head on the ball and thundered it past the keeper to half the deficit. Not a minute later, a very similar service from Tschantret connected with academy stalwart Dalton Visconti who leveled the match with a tenacious effort, securing the 2-2 draw for Sporting KC.
Following the U-19s draw, both the U-17s and U-15s kicked their matches off. In the U-17 match, St. Louis hopped out in front early, but the response was swift by SKC. An interception near midfield sparked a quick counterattack that resulted in a terrific combination of passes just outside the 18. Three passes later and Aiden Benitez was played in on goal where he wasted no time evening the score at one apiece.
St. Louis reclaimed the lead right before halftime taking the 2-1 advantage into the break. With a burst of energy out of halftime Sporting was able to tie the match up once again. Johann Ortiz put his defender in a spin cycle with a fake pass and then slipped Trajan Wormington past the CITY backline and in on goal with an inch-perfect through ball. The forward deftly chipped the keeper and deadlocked the score at two.
Neither side was able to gain the advantage until there was less than a minute to go. In stoppage time, the U-17s executed a set piece straight from the training ground to perfection. After a lob over the wall, and a ripped cross into the area, a shot pinged off the crossbar, stuck around the box and was fired home by Mason Dancy. Sporting held onto their first lead of the day repelling one last-ditch effort from St. Louis to take a 3-2 victory.
As the U-17s played out their thrilling comeback, the U-15s took it to St. Louis CITY, handling them by way of a 2-0 victory. From the first whistle, Sporting came out on the attack, earning a penalty kick within the first 10 minutes.
Despite the opposing keeper making a solid save on a well-taken penalty, Sporting’s confidence did not waiver. Shortly thereafter, Cristiano Delgado offered a delicious cross into the box that Chinelo Robinson snatched out of the air with a flying header. His redirect torched the keeper and gave Sporting the advantage they deserved.
With a rock-solid back four SKC rejected all STL advances to close out the remainder of the first half. In the final 40-minute period, the U-15s doubled their lead off a St. Louis own goal. The two-goal advantage held for the remainder of the match as well as the clean sheet produced by the stout Sporting KC defense leading to an undefeated trip to Boonville to punctuate the preseason.
The 2022-23 MLS NEXT season will resume Sunday with Sporting KC taking on RISE Soccer Club at Swope Soccer Village. Four major events remain 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 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.