Sporting Kansas City Academy is Top MLS Academy
The Sporting Kansas City Academy was awarded recognition as the 2018 MLS Academy of the Year for its exemplary player development under Academy Director Jon Parry and a dedicated team of coaches and support staff at the U-12 through U-19 levels.
The award was presented at the Major League Soccer’s 2018 Club Executive Awards Ceremony in Chicago, held at Theater on the Lake in conjunction with the 2019 MLS SuperDraft presented by adidas.
Sporting is a well-oiled machine with a clear and proven pathway for developing players from the youth level to professional. With a holistic approach to player development at the Academy, and a seamless style universally played at all levels of Sporting; Academy, USL’s Swope Park Rangers to the first team, the program has already born fruit.
Sporting currently has five Academy products on its first team roster, including 22-year-old forward Daniel Salloi — who led the team with 16 goals in all competitions in 2018 — as well as a quartet of players who experienced breakthroughs last season: 20-year-old midfielder Wan Kuzain Wan Kamal, 18-year-old defender Jaylin Lindsey, 16-year-old midfielder Gianluca Busio and 16-year-old forward Tyler Freeman. And these are just the players who are contracted with the first team.
To help bridge a possible transition between the Academy and the professional teams, many academy players attend practice at the USL and MLS team trainings.
What is so special about Sporting KC’s Academy?
It is the dedication of its staff under the constant watchful eye of Parry. And the Academy works very closely with the professional side of the club. Even the first team manager Peter Vermes has been spotted attending academy practices.
Determined to build a unique player development environment where players could excel, Sporting has invested heavily into their Academy. At many other clubs, the head coach is present for practice. As Sporting FC Academy, practice sidelines are filled with coaches, trainers and even the Academy’s technical coach Michel Ribeiro.
Ribeiro also works with the first team as well as the USL players and has been in Arizona for Spring training.
The Academy boasts a robust staff devoted to player development, including six head coaches from U-12 through U-19 plus one technical coach, two goalkeeper coaches, and two fitness coaches. The staff also has multiple team administrators, trainers, and physicians as well as a director of player care, nutritionist and Academy scout.
And it works. The Kuzain, Lindsey, and Busio were three of 12 Academy products who earned playing time for the Swope Park Rangers throughout the 2018 USL Championship season. These players made a combined 135 appearances as the Rangers advanced to the USL Cup Playoffs for the third straight year.
And the focus of proper development starts when players are young. The Sporting Kansas City Academy U-12’s were crowned champions of the prestigious 2018 Generation adidas Cup, going unbeaten against six MLS academy teams. The team also earned the title of Premier SuperCopa 2018 Champions.
Swope Soccer Village serves as the Academy’s state-of-the-art training facilities with nine full-size fields. Players also have periodic access to the world-class Pinnacle National Development Center, home of Sporting KC’s first team and U.S. Soccer’s Coaching Training Center.
The Academy also holds a close relationship with the Sporting Club Network, an affiliation program with clubs that cover nine states, 40 cities and reach more than 20,000 youth players throughout the Midwest.
The combined membership of the program exceeds 70,000 members, highlighted by the largest Academy Affiliate program in the U.S. with 14 branded affiliates representing the Sporting name and helping support the club’s overarching player development goals.
Source: Sporting KC Release
Photo Credit: Diane Scavuzzo