The Swope Park Rangers have signed Sporting Kansas City Academy defender Ezra Armstrong, midfielder Will Little and goalkeeper Steven Tekesky to Academy contracts ahead of the 2016 USL season, the club announced today. The three players are still eligible to play for the Sporting KC Academy and their contracts will not affect their NCAA eligibility.
“It was very important from the start to have a relationship between Sporting KC, the Swope Park Rangers and the Academy,” Swope Park Rangers head coach Marc Dos Santos said. “Signing Ezra, Will and Steven shows our commitment to continuing that integration and shows Academy players that they’ll always have a chance of moving up the ranks. The Rangers give them that stepping stone moving forward, so I think it’s a credit to the Academy and the individual players.”
Armstrong, 17, joined the Sporting KC Academy ahead of the 2014-15 season after relocating from Sporting KC Academy affiliate Sporting Nashville Heroes based in Tennessee. Since joining the SKC Academy, Armstrong has made over 35 appearances with the Under-16 and Under-18 teams, scoring four goals. He has played in nine games with the U-18s in the 2015-16 U.S. Soccer Development Academy season.
The son of Desmond Armstrong – a National Soccer Hall of Famer – Ezra Armstrong appeared at left back in all four of the Rangers’ Desert Diamond Cup games, where he recorded an assist on the Rangers’ last-minute, game-tying goal in the 2-2 draw with Columbus Crew SC on Feb. 24. In addition, the club did not concede a goal while he was on the field throughout the tournament.
Little arrived in Kansas City in January 2015, having spent his earlier playing days with several different youth clubs surrounding his native Johnson City, Tennessee. Like Armstrong, the 17-year-old has appeared in over 35 games for the SKC Academy, scoring 15 goals from midfield. So far this season, Little has averaged a goal every two games, with eight strikes in 16 appearances.
Little made an immediate impact with the Rangers in preseason, coming off the bench in the cub’s 3-1 win over the Colorado Rapids on Feb. 17 and recording the game-winning assist before scoring himself late on. He went on to play in three of the Rangers’ four games at the Desert Diamond Cup before replacing Dom Dwyer in Sporting KC’s 2-2 draw with the Houston Dynamo on Feb. 27.
Tekesky was born in San Bernadino, California but raised in Raymore, Missouri and joined the SKC Academy in 2010. In the 2015-16 Development Academy season, Tekesky has made 16 starts in goal for the SKC U-18s, posting six shutouts and recording a 1.29 goals against average. Tekesky has been training with the Rangers since the start of the club’s preseason alongside Academy teammates Armstrong and Little.
In 2014, the 18-year-old was among 54 MLS Academy players selected for the Generation adidas Elite Soccer Program (ESP) event held in Portland, Oregon where he trained and played against other elite MLS Academy players as well as Bayern Munich’s Under-16 team. Later that same year, he was called up to the first-ever U.S. Youth Futsal National Team, joining the Under-16 team for three games in Toronto, Ontario.
Born: 12/15/98 (17 years old)
Weight: 155 lbs.
Hometown: Nashville, Tenn.
Birthplace: Gastonia, N.C.
Born: 4/9/98 (17 years old)
Weight: 125 lbs.
Hometown: Johnson City, Tenn.
Birthplace: Johnson City, Tenn.
Born: 1/20/98 (18 years old)
Weight: 165 lbs.
Hometown: Raymore, Mo.
Birthplace: San Bernadino, Calif.