Sporting KC Academy quartet Gage Akalu, Nati Clarke, Kelly Kipruto and Misael Mena have ventured south for the U.S. Soccer Youth National Team’s Under-14 Talent Identification Central Region Mini-Camp, which runs Thursday to Monday at the Toyota Soccer Center in Frisco, Texas.
Akalu, Clarke, Kipruto and Mena are four of 80 players from the Central Region who will make up 20-player teams based on the region’s four defined scouting areas (North Central, South Central, Midwest and Southeast). In addition, Sporting KC Academy U-15 head coach Chris O’Neal will serve as a coach for the North Central team during the five-day camp.
After a day of training, the four teams will play each other in round-robin competition.
Friday, March 15
- Midwest Select vs. North Central Select – 10:00 a.m. CT
- South Central Select vs. Southeast Select – 11:30 a.m. CT
Saturday, March 16
- Midwest Select vs. South Central Select – 10:00 a.m. CT
- North Central Select vs. Southeast Select – 11:30 a.m. CT
Monday, March 18
- Midwest Select vs. Southeast Select – 9:45 a.m. CT
- North Central Select vs. South Central Select – 10:45 a.m. CT
In addition to the on-field competition, the camp will focus on off-field education. Players will be introduced to YNT principles of play, position profiles and goal-setting to help them take responsibility for their own development. The players will also visit the new National Soccer Hall of Fame that opened last fall at Toyota Stadium in Frisco.
Among the four Sporting KC Academy players, 13-year-old forwards Akalu and Kipruto and 14-year-old defender Clarke have spent most of the 2018-19 Development Academy season competing at the U-15 level. Mena, a 12-year-old goalkeeper, began the year with the U-13s but earlier this month debuted for the Sporting KC U-17s.
The majority of players called into the Central Mini-Camp were identified at last fall’s Development Academy Central Regional Showcase and were further evaluated at Youth National Team Identification Centers as part of the scouting process prior to being selected for this camp.