Sporting KC Academy splits pair of doubleheaders in Colorado
(Via Sam Kovzan / SportingKC.com) – The Sporting Kansas City Academy U-18s and U-16s visited Colorado this weekend for a two-game road trip in the 2016-17 U.S. Soccer Development Academy, emerging with one win and one loss apiece.
The U-18s fell 2-1 to the Colorado Rush on Saturday at Aurora Sports Park, but coach Jon Parry’s men responded Sunday with a last-ditch 3-2 victory over Real Colorado at Real Colorado Sports Complex in Highlands Ranch.
The U-16s made a winning start with a 4-1 defeat of the Colorado Rush on Saturday — sparked by Gianluca Busio’s hat-trick — then slipped to a 3-1 loss at first-place Real Colorado the next day.
With two months of the USSDA campaign in the books, the Sporting KC U-18s (7-2-0, 21 points) sit third in the Frontier Division of the Central Conference based on points per game. The side still leads the 23-team conference with 27 goals scored this season.
The Sporting KC U-16s (5-3-1, 16 points) — also tied atop the Central Conference with 22 goals — dropped to fourth in the Frontier Division, two points behind table toppers Real Colorado.
Colorado Rush U-18s 2, Sporting KC U-18s 1
The Rush entered the weekend with an 0-6-0 record in the Frontier Division but sprang a surprise upset on home soil. The hosts drew first blood in the 21st minute, prompting a response from Sporting KC just before halftime as Leroy Enzugusi tallied his sixth goal of the USSDA season.
A frustrating second half saw the U-18s control proceedings — with Wan Kuzain Wan Kamal, Chase Bromstedt and Mario Magana all going close near the hour mark — yet Colorado would retake against the run of play on a 61st-minute corner kick. Seeking a late equalizer, Joe Corner forced a strong save from Rush goalkeeper Nikolaus Opel in the 80th minute. A wave of intense pressure included a free kick from U.S. youth international Felipe Hernandez that barely cleared the crossbar, and the Rush held on for their first win of the 2016-17 campaign.
Sporting KC U-16s 4, Colorado Rush U-16s 1
Josh Gardner’s U-16s finished as comfortable winners on Saturday, but were made to wait for the first goal until the 65th minute. Busio drew a foul inside the box and Grayson Barber buried the ensuing penalty kick to break the deadlock.
Busio then erupted for three consecutive goals of his own, netting a hat-trick in less than 10 minutes. His first came courtesy of a Colin Innes corner kick in the 71st minute, but the second was a touch of individual magic as he picked out the top corner from 20 yards out. Busio would complete his treble before the 80th minute, but the U-16s fell short of a clean sheet thanks to Cole Bassett’s consolation strike.
Sporting KC U-18s 3, Real Colorado U-18s 2
The U-18s put Saturday’s disappointing result behind them with a 3-2 win on Sunday, taking just six minutes to open the scoring. Barber was trampled in the box, and Hernandez converted the penalty to tally his team-leading seventh goal of the USSDA season. Real Colorado leveled 10 minutes before the break and nearly surged ahead on the stroke of halftime, but goalkeeper Steve Tekesky made two brilliant saves to keep the sides even.
Wan Kuzain’s stunning strike in the 55th minute put Sporting KC back in the driver’s seat, but less than 60 seconds later, Real Colorado conjured a second goal of their own. The match would remain deadlocked until the 90th minute when Barber ran onto Tekesky’s long ball over the top and beat the keeper to give the U-18s a dramatic, last-gasp win.
Real Colorado U-16s 3, Sporting KC U-16s 1
The U-16s landed the first punch Sunday as Innes’ free kick in the 34th minute found an unmarked Donnell Gillard at the far post. However, Real Colorado would roar back with three consecutive goals from Zachary Guarino, Jovany Herrera and Layton Purchase to take climb to the summit of the Frontier Division standings.
Up Next: Doubleheader with Texans on Nov. 12
The U-18s and U-16s have next weekend off before meeting the Dallas Texans on Saturday, Nov. 12, in a doubleheader at Rogers State University in Claremore, Oklahoma. The U-18s kick off at 1 p.m. CT before the U-16s take the field at 3:30 p.m. CT. Follow @SKCAcademy on Twitter for live updates throughout the season.