Both the Sporting Kansas City Acadmey U-17 and U-15 sides showed out at Generation adidas Cup in Bradenton, FL from April 2-9, producing 10 wins in 13 matches throughout the week. Sporting KC's U-17s won their group without conceding a goal in group-stage play and the U-15s capped off the tournament by winning three straight matches in the showcase.
In the group stage, Sporting's U-17s started off hot with a 2-0 win over Charlotte FC. An early penalty save by Carlito Saylon kept the match scoreless long enough for Trajan Wormington to find the back of the net before halftime off a Johann Ortiz assist. Ryan Reid added a goal midway through the second to seal the deal for Sporting and give them an opening match win. Matchday two put the U-17s up against Liga MX members Atlas F.C. who also won their first match. Needing a win, Wormington found the back of the net again thanks to a great ball from Alex Cunningham. Sporting's defense held keeping their second straight clean sheet.
With just a result required to finish atop Group 6, the U-17s faced Toronto FC on the third and final day of the group stage. A back-and-forth affair yielded zero goals in the 60-minute match and Sporting took the top spot in the group. To cap off the afternoon Sporting claimed an extra point, winning in a shootout. As one of 16 teams to advance to the knockout rounds, Sporting's U-17s were matched up with the LAFC Academy in the Round of 16.
The final first-round knockout match streamed live on MLS SEASON PASS on Apple TV as the two MLS sides faced off for a spot in the quarterfinals. A busy first half in Sporting's defensive third did not produce a goal for the Black and Gold and a late counterattack for Sporting KC also came up empty as the first 30 minutes ended goalless. Sporting came out on the front foot in the second, keeping a majority of possession in the attacking third. A late break for LAFC in the final four minutes of the match produced the game's only score. LAFC would go on to lose to the eventual U-17 champions, the Philadelphia Union in the semifinals.
Now playing in the GA Cup showcase, the U-17s took down the New York Red Bulls 1-0, defeated Club Leon in kicks from the spot and scored a last-second winner against Strikers FC with the final attack of the competition. Throughout their seven matches, they conceded just two goals, one against LAFC and one against Strikers, and posted an overall record of 4-1-2 with two wins in both of their shootouts. it was a very impressive showing from Sporting's U-17s on one of the biggest stages in MLS NEXT.
Sporting Kansas City's U-15 GA Cup started off a day later than the rest of their counterparts after the first match was postponed to Tuesday due to an opponent's travel issues. Opening up against eventual GA Cup U-15 runner-ups, the Philadelphia Union, Sporting's U-15 squad played them tough nearly taking the lead midway through the first half. A Union score right on the cusp of halftime and a second-half finish put the match on ice in favor of Philadelphia.
Needing a win to keep alive in the group Sporting faced Inter Miami CF on their second matchday. Eric Foust scored on a one-on-one with the keeper after rounding the goaltender, surviving the contact and tucking a shot into the empty net. Miami evened the score in the second but a clinical penalty kick from Ramiz Hamouda and some terrific defending led Sporting to victory. As a standalone match on Tuesday, April 4, the U-15s faced Valencia CF in a high-stakes match where the winner would advance into the knockouts. An early goal from the La Liga side and a red card early in the second proved to be Sporting's downfall as they fell 2-0 to Valencia.
Not letting that match hang over them the SKC U-15s entered the GA Cup Showcase hungry. Beginning the showcase with a showdown against Pumas UNAM, Sporting found themselves in a 2-0 hole at halftime. A quick strike from Miguel Romero and a last-second penalty conversion from Dylan Mirakian leveled the match and took the contest to a shootout. Four rounds later and Sporting completed the comeback winning the shootout 3-1.
It was deja vu a day later when Sporting fell behind the New England Revolution 2-0 in the first half. Romero found the back of the net once more alongside teammate Ian James as Sporting dominated the second forcing the Revolution into a shootout that would go 13 rounds. Both goalkeepers made their kicks and 26 shots later Sporting emerged victorious 10-9. Facing the Portland Timbers in what would prove to be the U-15's final match of GA Cup, Cristiano Delgado buried a shot from inside the 18 to propel SKC to a 1-0 win.
The U-15s ended up posting a 2-2-2 record, winning both of their shootouts and all three of their showcase matches. Their final showcase match would have had them take on NYCFC but the weather had other plans, canceling the contest.
Both teams have returned to Swope Soccer Village and will resume training and preparations for the rest of the 2022-23 MLS NEXT Season. With GA Cup in the rearview mirror, MLS NEXT FLEX and the MLS NEXT Playoffs lie ahead for the U-17s and U-15s as well as the rest of the Academy. Sporting KC fans can follow along with everything going on in the Sporting Academy by following @SKCAcademy on Twitter and Instagram and checking SportingKCAcademy.com.