The Sporting Kansas City Academy U-19s and U-17s learned their group stage opponents on Wednesday for the 2019 U.S. Soccer Development Academy Playoffs, with the group stage and quarterfinal knockout round taking place from June 17-25 at the SoCal Sports Complex in Oceanside, California.
The tournament’s official draw split 32 academy clubs at each age level into eight groups of four. The group stage runs June 17-22 — consisting of a three-game round-robin — and will send every first-place finisher to the Development Academy quarterfinals, which will follow on June 24-25. The four quarterfinal winners will advance to the Development Academy semifinals, slated to take place July 8-11 at Orange County Great Park in Irvine, California.
Sporting will send its two oldest academy teams to the Development Academy Playoffs for the fourth straight year. The U-18s and U-16s reached the postseason in 2016 and 2017 before age divisions were restructured. The U-19s and U-17s, both led by head coach Rumba Munthali, reached the playoffs last year and have replicated the feat once more, hoping to deliver Sporting its first Development Academy national title.
Group stage schedules and Sporting's tournament rosters will be released in the near term.
The Sporting KC U-19s enjoyed an excellent regular season, posting a 16-4-3 record and sealing the No. 4 overall playoff seed. Among the team's standouts are twin brothers Jahon and Kaveh Rad, forward Sean Karani and defender Mo Abualnadi, all of whom have earned USL Championship playing time with the Swope Park Rangers in 2019.
The Sporting KC U-17s secured a wild card playoff berth after finishing the 2018-19 regular season campaign with a 12-9-2 record. A balanced attack saw Swope Park Rangers midfielder Jake Davis lead the way with six goals, while a deep defensive corps includes fellow SPR academy signees in defender Dylan Hooper and goalkeeper Max Trejo.
2019 Development Academy Playoffs: U-19 Group B
|Sporting Kansas City||4||16-4-3||2.22||44||27|
|Columbus Crew SC||23||12-6-4||1.82||45||25|
|Sacramento Republic FC||30||12-6-7||1.72||58||34|
The U-19s have been placed in a compelling group alongside two other MLS academies—the Montreal Impact and Columbus Crew SC—as well as a Sacramento Republic side that boasts one of the best academies among USL Championship clubs. Sporting's clip of 2.22 points per game afforded them the luxury of being the top-seeded team in the group.
2019 Development Academy Playoffs: U-17 Group B
|United Futbol Academy||21-6-1||2.29||58||32|
|Sporting Kansas City||12-9-2||1.65||31||34|
The U-17s are the lone MLS academy in their group, joining United Futbol Academy (Georgia), FC United (Illinois) and Strikers FC (California).
Follow the Sporting KC Academy on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and visit SportingKCAcademy.com for updates throughout the playoffs and for the latest information on the club's youth development teams.