The Sporting Kansas City Academy resumed the 2022-23 MLS NEXT Season with a four-match sweep against RISE Soccer Club on Sunday at Swope Soccer Village. It was an all-around effort with Sporting KC’s attack finding the back of the net on 13 occasions complimented by a solid defensive effort.
The U-19s came out on the front foot from the first whistle. Despite controlling possession for the majority of the first half, the contest remained scoreless through the half. The U-19s kicked it into gear in the second half and pestered the opposition defense.
In the first minute of the second, Dalton Visconti received a pass in the RISE 18-yard box and drew a foul setting up a penalty kick. Shaking off the penalty-earning tackle, Visconti converted the kick to throw SKC out in front. Moments later, midfielder Cielo Tschantret ripped a shot from range and rattled the crossbar. The ball drifted high into the air and was headed home by a well-positioned Visconti, giving him a brace on the day.
Sporting continued to possess the ball well with the two-goal cushion. Multiple well-worked movements nearly yielded goals for Sporting with the third finally coming off the foot of Naim Robinson from just inside the 18. Ethan Schaefer netted the fourth and final goal of the morning for Sporting with a nifty backheel flick from inside the six-yard box. RISE would pull one back on the last chance of the match, but Sporting’s U-19 took the match by way of a 4-1 finish.
Much like the U-19s game, the U-17s were unable to break the scoreless deadlock in the first half before sinking a penalty kick early in the second. After Geremi Onentia skillfully rounded the keeper, he had his legs snatched out from under him, setting up the kick from the spot. A perfectly placed finish granted the U-17s a much-deserved advantage.
As RISE went on the attack looking to equalize, Sporting’s backline repelled them back on every occasion. With less than a quarter of an hour to go, the pressure ramped up. SKC was up to task, denying entry into the 18 at every turn. The match broke open in the final ticks of the clock after Ronald Lozano buried a one-on-one with the keeper after being slipped in past the defense. The U-17s claimed the clean sheet and a 2-0 victory.
Sporting’s U-15s came out firing right off the bat, netting three first-half goals. An offensive showing highlighted by Alessandro Cupini’s first-half brace and eventual hat trick could not be stopped on Sunday. Sporting's high press swarmed RISE in the first 45 as turnovers led to goals for Sporting KC.
Back-to-back finishes from Cupini had Sporting out in front 2-0 before forward Miguel Romero put his name on the scorer’s sheet just before the conclusion of the first. Cupini’s three-goal performance was capped off with a brilliant, free kick strike from range. A RISE score trimmed the lead but Sporting still claimed all three points in a 4-1 performance.
In the closest of the four matches on the day, the U-14s fell behind 1-0 midway through the first. This did not deter their efforts as the attack continued to apply pressure before finally breaking through with a goal from Alex Gemeinhardt from close range. Halftime came with the score even at one apiece.
The contest opened up in the second with three goals scored in the 40-minute period. Armando Infante pushed Sporting out in front for the first time in the match. The lead was short-lived as RISE answered with a goal of their own late in the fixture.
With a draw looming, Gemeinhardt launched what would prove to be the difference-making advancement. His service connected with Porter Allen found the goal and gave the hosts the late lead with just 30 seconds left. The defense held up and the U-14s completed the sweep for the SKC Academy.
The 2022-23 MLS NEXT season continues Sunday when the Sporting KC and FC Dallas Academies meet in Tulsa, OK. 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.