Two games, two victories by a 2-1 scoreline.
The Sporting Kansas City Academy U-18s and U-16s returned to U.S. Soccer Development Academy action Saturday with wins over Lonestar SC at sunny Swope Soccer Village. The hard-earned sweep keeps both teams in healthy position to qualify for the Development Academy playoffs, which begin in June upon completion of the 2016-17 regular season.
The U-18s (12-7-0, 36 points) received goals from Leroy Enzugusi and Gabe Kash to keep hold of third place in the Frontier Division standings, two points behind joint-leaders Lonestar FC and FC Dallas. Led by head coach Jon Parry, the U-18s top the division with 45 goals through 19 league matches.
The second-place U-16s (14-3-1, 43 points) earned an identical result a few hours later, coming from behind thanks to Dontell Gilyard’s equalizer and a wonderful free kick winner off the foot of Gianluca Busio. The win kept Josh Gardner’s side within three points of first-place FC Dallas at the top of the table.
Sporting KC U-18s 2, Lonestar SC 1
Enzugusi took just eight minutes to fire Sporting KC in front, latching onto a corner kick from Camilo Benitez and finding the back of the net for his team-leading 10th goal of the Development Academy season. Enzugusi then turned provider in the 27th minute with a clever pass to Max Rugova, who struck narrowly over the crossbar. A turnover at the end of the first half afforded Lonestar SC a clear opportunity to restore parity, but goalkeeper Steve Tekesky produced and excellent save to keep his club ahead.
Sporting KC saw two huge chances go begging early in the second half when Chase Bromstedt missed the top corner by a matter of inches and Rugova missed a penalty kick. That left the door open for Lonestar to level the match on 65 minutes.
The hosts responded positively, however, and surged back in front when Kash slotted home amidst heavy traffic in the penalty area. Tekesky would then make two saves in the final five minutes to ensure victory for Sporting KC.
Sporting KC U-16s 2, Lonestar SC 1
The U-16s started brightly with chances falling to Sean Karani and Abdu Kikhia, but fell behind in the 22nd minute after being caught on the counter-attack. Kikhia was then denied by the Lonestar goalkeeper in the 26th minute before Alex Brown made a splendid save of his own shortly thereafter. Sebastian Cruz set up Karani for the final chance of the half, but his attempt was tipped over the bar.
Sporting KC’s dominance was rewarded in the 54th minute when Gilyard made it 1-1, beating a defender and hammering just inside the near post for his first league goal of the season. Lonestar showed glimpses of danger as the match wore on, forcing Brown to make another save in the 63rd minute.
The match was ultimately decided in the 79th minute when Isaac McGinnis drew a foul just outside the box for Sporting KC. Busio promptly stepped up and sent a brilliant free kick into the top corner to give his side all three points.
The 2016-17 U.S. Soccer Development Academy campaign resumes this Saturday when the Sporting KC faces Real Colorado in a doubleheader at Fort Hays State University Soccer Stadium in Hays, Kansas. The U-18s take the field at noon CT before the U-16s kick off at 2:30 p.m. Follow @SKCAcademy on Twitter for live updates.