Academy Way

Academy U-16s go head-to-head with nation's best at Generation adidas Cup

U-16s at 2016 Generation adidas Cup

The Sporting Kansas City Academy U-16s went head-to-head with some of the country’s best youth teams this week in the 2016 Generation adidas Cup at Toyota Soccer Center in Frisco, Texas.

The Generation adidas Cup is Major League Soccer’s annual elite youth tournament, showcasing the top clubs from across the United States and abroad. Sporting Kansas City went 2-0-1 in Group D of the Premier Division, narrowly missing out on the semifinals with a penalty shootout defeat to Mexican side CF Monterrey. The team then defeated Seattle Sounders FC in a penalty shootout on Thursday and will conclude the tournament on Saturday against FC Tokyo in the fifth-place match.

Led by head coach Jon Parry, the U-16s flew out of the gates last Friday with a 4-0 win over the Portland Timbers. Cam Duke opened the scoring after 13 minutes and Maxi Rugova netted twice before halftime — the first a superb free kick and the second a penalty. Collin Innes added a fourth goal in the late stages of the match.

The U-16s, who were the second youngest team in the tournament with an average age of 15.55, squared off with another MLS opponent on Sunday, defeating the New England Revolution 3-0. Rugova drew first blood in the 29th minute, burying the rebound after his penalty kick was initially saved. Sporting KC struck twice in quick succession after the break, with Grayson Barber scoring the third in the 56th minute.

The decisive group stage finale saw Sporting KC face Monterrey, with the winner advancing to the Premier Division semifinals. Barber fired his side ahead in the 6th minute after shrugging off his defender and slotting low past the goalkeeper. Jake Gusler doubled the advantage in the 23rd minute, finishing from close range after Mason Visconti’s shot was saved.

Monterrey cut the deficit in half just before halftime, but a series of excellent saves from Alex Brown preserved Sporting KC’s lead for most of the second stanza. However, Monterrey snatched an equalizer in stoppage time and won the ensuing penalty shootout to drop Sporting KC into Thursday’s fifth-place match. 

Teams participating in the Generation adidas Cup are divided into the East, Central and West qualifying regions. The top two finishers in each region compete against other international sides for the Championship Division title, while the remaining teams play for the consolation Premier Division title. Sporting Kansas City ended qualifying in February with a 3-3-0 record, securing a third-place finish in the Central region and a spot in the tournament’s Premier Division.

The U-16s return to league play in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy on Saturday, April 2, hosting Real Colorado at Swope Soccer Village. For the latest Sporting KC Academy updates and photos during the Generation adidas Cup, follow @SKCAcademy on Twitter and Instagram.