Three Sporting Kansas City Academy teams ventured to Houston over the weekend for a pair of tripleheaders in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy. The U-15s and U-19s enjoyed six-point weekends, prevailing on Saturday and Sunday against Texans SC Houston and Houston Dynamo Youth, respectively, while the U-17s earned their first result of the season with a 2-2 draw on Sunday.
The U-19s have begun the 2018-19 Development Academy campaign with a perfect 4-0-0 record, including a win over perennial powerhouse FC Dallas, and currently occupy first place in the Central Conference’s Frontier Division.
Houston Dutch Lions FC Training Facility played host to Saturday’s matches in Conroe, Texas, with the Sporting KC U-15s taking momentum from last weekend’s 5-1 defeat of FC Dallas into their matchup with Texans SC. Gage Akalu fired the visitors ahead in the 14th minute and Rokus Pukstas doubled the lead eight minutes later. Texans SC halved the deficit early in the second half through Julian Vega, but Dalton Visconti restored the two-goal cushion within 60 seconds. Steven Hunsberger again drew the hosts within one in the 65th minute, only for Sporting KC’s Daniel Gutierrez to seal the victory with a 74th-minute strike.
A tightly contested affair remained scoreless until the 61st minute, when Francisco Lopez gave Sporting KC a 1-0 advantage after finishing off a pass from Tucker Lepley. Texans SC restored parity only a minute later on a goal from Mayco Reyes, and Ramon Soto Jr. scored in the 71st minute to condemn Sporting KC to a narrow defeat.
In what turned out to be a cagey contest between two competitive sides, the U-19s took just 45 seconds to bag the game-winner. Midfield playmaker Sebastian Cruz unleashed a brilliant curler into the upper left corner to put Sporting KC on top, and the lead would not be relinquished as goalkeeper Brooks Thompson tallied his second shutout of the season.
A change in scenery saw all three Academy teams take the field at Bear Branch Soccer Complex on Sunday in The Woodlands, and the U-15s kicked off the three-game set with an emphatic triumph. Pukstas stayed hot with a hat-trick, Visconti struck twice within the opening half-hour, and Akalu, Gutierrez, Zahir Dyke and Salat Mukoma all scored in the second half of a 9-2 win, with Houston receiving their goals through Felipe Alvarado.
The U-17s snapped a three-game losing skid in an exciting draw that produced its first goal in the 20th minute. Wan Kuzri Wan Kamal, the younger brother of Sporting KC Homegrown midfielder Wan Kuzain, assisted Stefan Bilinac on a well-worked goal only for Houston to equalize three minutes later. The hosts took a 2-1 advantage on the stroke of halftime, but Sporting KC conjured a leveler of their own when Zion Long’s shot was fumbled by the Houston goalkeeper and bundled into the net by Danny Goddard.
The U-19s had to scrap for Saturday’s win, but found three points easier to come by in the weekend finale. Forward Abdu Kikhia scored twice before halftime, with his brace sandwiching Cruz’s thunderous blast in the 24th minute. Ryan Fessler added a penalty kick on 49 minutes, shortly after Houston salvaged a consolation goal courtesy of Cameron Phillips.
All three teams will take the field Saturday in a Development Academy tripleheader against Real Colorado at Children's Mercy Victory Field inside Swope Soccer Village (6310 Lewis Rd., Kansas City, MO). The Sporting KC U-15s will kick off at 9 a.m. CT, followed by the U-17s at 11:30 a.m. and the U-19s at 2 p.m. Follow @SKCAcademy on Twitter for live updates on Saturday and throughout the Academy season.