In the summer of 2006, the United States Soccer Federation invited 120 players to Middlesex School -- 20 miles outside of Boston -- to join a seven-day identification camp for the U.S. Under-14 Boys' National Team. The camp was run by Technical Director Manny Schellscheidt, a member of the National Soccer Hall of Fame who had coached the U.S. Men's National Team in 1975 and led the United States at the 1984 Olympics before beginning a 13-year tenure at the bottom rung of the U.S. youth national team ladder.
"I thought it was best to start with the little guys because it’s definitely important that we get the first step right," Schellscheidt told USSoccer.com. "I felt that if we can get a good introduction at the bottom with the most talented kids that we could find in the country that would be a good thing."
Among those in attendance nearly a decade ago? Sporting Kansas City homegrown goalkeeper Jon Kempin -- making the trip from his hometown in Leawood, Kansas -- and at least three other future members of the U.S. Men's National Team: Will Packwood, Wil Trapp and DeAndre Yedlin.
Kempin, now 21, and Trapp are each currently in Carson, California with the full U.S. Men's National Team for the first time in their professional careers after steadily progressing through the ranks. In fact, Kempin has now joined eight different levels of U.S. Soccer's national team program (U14, U15, U17, U18, U20, U21, U23, USMNT) and has been named to a U.S. Soccer roster during nine of the past 10 years.
10-YEAR RISE: U14 TO USMNT
2015: USMNT (Training Camp in California, January)
2014: U21 (Training Camp in California, April)
2013: U20 (Training Camp in Mexico, January)
2012: N/A (sidelined due to fractured ankle)
2011: U23 (Training Camp in Germany, November); U18 (Northern Ireland Milk Cup, July); U18 (Lisbon International Tournament in Portugal, May); U18 (Training Camp in Oregon, April)
2010: U18 (Traditional Winter Tournament in Israel, December); U20 (Torneo de las Americas in Georgia, November); U18 (Training Camp in California, April)
2009: U18 (Training Camp in California, December); U18 (Training Camp in California, October); U17 (Residency in Florida, Spring)
2008: U17 (Residency in Florida, Fall); U17 (Training Camp in Florida, August); U15 (Training Camp in Missouri, June); U15 (Training Camp in California, February)
2007: U15 (Development Academy Nike Friendlies in Florida, December)
2006: U14 (Identification Camp in Massachusetts, July)
Unlike Kempin's first weeklong experience in 2006, the U.S. Men's National Team January Camp is a 28-day gauntlet highlighted by a pair of international friendlies on the horizon: away to Chile on Jan. 28 and home versus Panama on Feb. 8. Kempin is one of four goalkeepers on head coach Jurgen Klinsmann's roster and one of 12 Olympic-age players included with an eye toward qualifying for the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro.
"I think it's going very smooth because the older guys help them to feel comfortable, to feel at ease and to enjoy it," said Klinsmann. 'I think this is a big plus for this team and has always been a big plus for the American team that they make it easy for new players to come in and feel welcome and to feel part of the group right after a couple of days. I think that's what happens now with these younger players. They feel accepted, they feel respected and they spend a lot of time together. Therefore, I think it's a nice thing to do with this January camp to help this younger group to grow into the next level."
The road to College Cup officially kicks off later today as 32 of the 48 teams in the 2014 NCAA Division I Men's Soccer Championship begin play. But the journey for seven Sporting Kansas City Academy alums has been years in the making since their days on the Swope Soccer Village fields.
Take, for example, University of Denver freshman forward Cole Stevenson. The Leawood, Kansas native and Rockhurst High School graduate has one goal and two assists in 18 appearances this season for the Pioneers, who won their second straight Summit League championship. Stevenson can be seen below as a member of the Kansas City Wizards Juniors during the 2009/10 season - the first in which the club's U16 and U18 squads competed in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy.
In fact, tomorrow will mark the five-year anniversary of the club's inaugural Development Academy matches. The U16's (1-0) and U18's (3-2) won both games of a doubleheader against Texas Rush at Bear Branch Soccer Complex in Woodlands, Texas.
Games to watch in the NCAA tournament (updated with scores):
- Saint Louis University (Raymond Lee) 2, University of Tulsa 0 | FINAL
- University of North Carolina (Zach Wright, Andy Lopez) 6, James Madison University 0 | FINAL
- Wake Forest University (Heath Honold) 0, University of Maryland, Baltimore County 0 (UMBC advances 3-2 on PK's) | FINAL
- University of Denver (Cole Stevenson) 0, Oregon State University 1 | FINAL
- Fordham University (Matt Lewis) 1, Dartmouth College 2 | FINAL
- Creighton University (Eric DeJulio) vs. Oregon State University | 12:30 p.m. CT on Sunday
Who can resist Chipotle and soccer? Our point exactly!
The Sporting Kansas City Academy has teamed up with Chipotle to raise money for the 2014-15 season. Sporting KC fans are encouraged to join Academy midfielder and Chipotle Youth Homegrown athlete winner Roman Knox at the Chipotle on 135th & Metcalf in Overland Park, Kansas on Monday, November 17 from 4-9 p.m. CT. Chipotle will donate 50% of proceeds to the Sporting KC Academy when customers show the cashier this flyer.
Bring your friends. Let's make this a party.
The Sporting KC Academy program has proven valuable in recent years for Sporting KC Manager Peter Vermes, who has added talent to his senior roster with the homegrown signings of Kevin Ellis, Jon Kempin and Erik Palmer-Brown. Ellis was consistently seen in the starting lineup for Sporting KC this season, appearing in 20 MLS matches, while Kempin and Palmer-Brown made their MLS debuts. The 21-year-old goalkeeper earned MLS Save of the Week honors in his first two appearances for Sporting Kansas City and 17-year-old Palmer-Brown was the youngest player to appear in an MLS match this season.
Early this year, the Sporting Club Network announced its #MLSCupTour. As a celebration of Sporting Kansas City's 2013 MLS Cup championship, the Sporting Club Network packed up the Philip F. Anschutz Trophy and took it on a tour throughout the Midwest. Throughout this nine-month excursion, stops were made at a variety of Academy Affiliate cities to provide members of our network the chance to celebrate our championship in the comfort of their own backyard.
More than 50,000 Sporting Club Network members had the opportunity to see the cup as it traveled to 10 cities across four states. From Sporting Kansas City’s senior team to each and every youth player around the Midwest, this tour signified that we are all part of the same club by allowing our members to touch, feel and imagine raising the trophy themselves. Check out our Storify chronicling the tour and take a look at our video and photo album below highlighting this awesome series of events.
Thank you to the countless players, coaches, administrators, board members, fans and families that supported Sporting KC as they were crowned 2013 MLS Cup champions and celebrated the achievement along our tour throughout the Midwest. We’re so happy to have had the opportunity to share this victory with all of you and can’t wait to #DefendTogether!
Sporting Kansas City homegrown defender Erik Palmer-Brown is among the world's top 40 players at his age, acording to The Guardian's "Next Generation 2014" list released earlier today. The 17-year-old is the only American included in the compilation and one of two from CONCACAF along with Mexico's Erick Aguirre.
A Lee's Summit, Missouri native, Palmer-Brown appeared in six matches for Sporting Kansas City across all competition in 2014. He made his professional debut in May, becoming the youngest player in MLS history to start a regular season match as a defender and the youngest player to appear in a Major League Soccer match this season, for the first of three MLS games played. Palmer-Brown also started each of the team's two matches in the 2014 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and he most recently started in the team's 3-0 victory over Real Esteli FC in the 2014/15 CONCACAF Champions League.
Palmer-Brown is a member of the United States Under-20 Men's National Team, participating in an international training camp in Buenos Aires, Argentina last month. He attended the prestigious U.S. Soccer Residency Program in Bradenton, Florida in 2013 before being named one of five finalists for U.S. Soccer's Young Male Athlete of the Year.
Palmer-Brown is a product of the Sporting Kansas City Academy. He became the club's third homegrown player upon signing a professional contract in August 2013.
This weekend of October 10-13, Sporting KC and Swope Soccer Village will host the U17, U14 & U12 Central Region MLS Generation adidas Cup featuring Six MLS Academy clubs, including Sporting KC, Chicago Fire, Colorado Rapids, Columbus Crew, FC Dallas and Houston Dynamo.
U17 Division: All six MLS Academies will compete in the U17 division featuring two MLS GA cup games on Friday and Sunday with one Friendly on Monday. The schedule can be found online at www.mlssoccer.com/generationadidascup/2015.
U14 Division: Sporting KC, Chicago Fire, Colorado Rapids & Columbus Crew will play in the U14 division. Games will be held on Friday, Saturday & Sunday. The schedule can be found online at www.sportingkc.com/academy/mlsgacup-u14-2014.
U12 Division: Sporting KC, Chicago Fire, & Houston Dynamo will play in the U12 division. Multiple games will be held on Saturday (7v7) & Sunday (11v11). The schedule can be found online at www.sportingkc.com/academy/mlsgacup-u12-2014.
For more information on Swope Soccer Village including a map of the fields, please visit www.sportingkc.com/swope-park-training-center.
You can also get updates by following @SKCAcademy on Twitter!
Congratulations to Sporting St. Croix and El Padrino, who were named Sporting Club Network Academy Affiliate of the Year and Sporting Club Network Club of the year, respectively. Guests from both clubs will attend Sporting Kansas City’s annual team awards ceremony, Pitch Black, on Saturday at Sporting Park.
In their first year as an Academy Affiliate, Sporting St. Croix fully embraced the Academy Affiliate program and rebranding process. Despite being the furthest Academy Affiliate, located in the twin cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Minnesota, St. Croix consistently had some of the best participation in Academy events. Whether it was sending players and teams to compete during Academy Affiliate Weekend and MLS/MRL league play, or welcoming new Academy Affiliate Technical Director Desmond Armstrong on a visit, St. Croix was always well represented. The club even helped Sporting Kansas City’s Academy teams open up their seasons by playing in their first friendlies.
Sporting Club Network Club of the Year, El Padrino, has enjoyed a tremendously successful year in a variety of ventures. In just their second year as a member, El Padrino secured an agreement with Kansas City Power and Light through the Sporting Club Network and has seen their relationship flourish. Always looking for new ways to grow the game and foster the development of youth players throughout the Kansas City area, El Padrino teamed up with Soccer Nation and unveiled a new, two-field indoor complex, while also helping to support the planned construction of new futsal courts throughout Wyandotte County. El Padrino has hosted three different Sporting Club Network events this year, benefitting both their players and coaches, and has been instrumental in helping the Network and The Victory Project launch the community-focused Recycle Your Game program.
Sporting St. Croix and El Padrino will be formally recognized during Saturday’s Pitch Black awards ceremony in conjunction with Sporting Kansas City’s annual team awards. Fans are invited to vote for the various team awards online here through Thursday, October 9th. To stay up-to-date on the latest Sporting Club Network news, follow the Network on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.
Photo via @ussoccer_ynt on Twitter
Sporting Kansas City defender Erik Palmer-Brown started for the United States Under-20 Men's National Team on Tuesday in a 1-1 draw against the Argentina Under-20 Men's National Team in Ezeiza, Argentina. The home side's lone goal came from 19-year-old River Plate forward Giovanni Simeone, the son of Atletico Madrid manager and three-time World Cup veteran Diego Simeone, in the 48th minute before Zach Pfeffer (Philadelphia Union) pulled the U.S. level with a game-tying goal in the 61st minute.
Palmer-Brown, the youngest player on the U.S. roster at age 17, started all three games for head coach Tab Ramos during the team's stay in Buenos Aires. Prior to today's friendly, the U-20's earned a 2-0 victory over Racing Club Reserves and a 3-2 win against Defensa y Justicia Reserves.
The international trip to South America was Palmer-Brown's second full training camp with the U.S. Under-20 Men's National Team. In April, he appeared in four victories for the U-20's en route to reaching the Dallas Cup final.
— WalterGastonCoyette (@gatocoyette) September 9, 2014
Erik Palmer-Brown started his second straight match for the United States Under-20 Men's National Team on Saturday, playing the full 70 minutes in a 3-2 win over Defensa y Justicia Reserves in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The Sporting KC defender anchored a U.S. backline that allowed only two shots on goal, both of which resulted in goals for the home side in the opening 15 minutes.
The United States, led by head coach Tab Ramos, came from behind with a brace from Bradford Jamieson (LA Galaxy) and a goal from Paul Arriola (Tijuana). It marked the second straight victory for the youth national team during their international training camp after earning a 2-0 win over Racing Club Reserves last Thursday. Palmer-Brown started and played 62 minutes in that win.
The U.S. will next play the Argentina Under-20 Men's National Team on Tuesday, Sept. 9 before players return to their respective clubs on Wednesday, Sept. 10. Follow @ussoccer_ynt for updates.
League play begins tonight at Swope Soccer Village as area youth soccer players will step foot on the new fields for the first time since the start of a $15.5 million expansion at the state-of-the-art facility. Over 16,000 boys and girls of all ages will compete at Swope Soccer Village during the Fall 2014 season, representing more than 1,100 teams from nearly 200 clubs.
Mayor Sly James stopped by the nine-field complex (three natural grass, six synthetic turf) at 63rd and Lewis Rd in Kansas City, Missouri on Thursday, sending out a series of tweet with his first impressions.
— Mayor Sly James (@MayorSlyJames) September 4, 2014
— Mayor Sly James (@MayorSlyJames) September 4, 2014
An official dedication ceremony will be held next Friday, Sept. 12 at 4:30 p.m. CT on the south plaza at Swope Soccer Village. Mayor Pro Tem Cindy Circo, 5th District Councilman Michael Brooks, Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders, KC Parks Commissioners and Sporting KC representatives will all be in attendance for the festivities.
In addition to league competition, Swope Soccer Village's fall schedule is highlighted by several upcoming marquee events:
- Big 12 Soccer Championship: The postseason tournament returns to KC for a second straight year as the top eight women's soccer teams in the Big 12 conference play in a single-elimination tournament from Nov. 5-9 for an automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament.
- Youth Soccer Clinic: Hosted by the Kansas City Sports Commission and featuring NWSL champions FC Kansas City, the clinic is free for kids 6-12 and will be held from 8:30-10:30 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 8. Registration is required.
- Presidents Cup & State Cup: The best under-15 thru under-18 girls soccer teams from Missouri and Kansas will play Nov. 8-9 in pursuit of berths to regional competition and with college coaches in attendance for recruiting opportunities.
- NCAA Division III Soccer Championship: The men's and women's champions of NCAA Division III will be crowned on Dec. 5-6 in the first of four years of NCAA soccer championships coming to Swope Soccer Village.