SKC Made Better By Affiliate Club Development

Affiliate clubs strengthen Sporting’s player development
by Skylar Rolstad   |   Monday, February 17, 2014

John Hefti Photography - SKC, Sporting KC

Since MLS announced a partnership with USL PRO in January 2013, new opportunities have been found by clubs to get more game experience for their younger players with loans to the third division clubs. This has proven as being a great way of not only helping MLS clubs develop players, but also making USL PRO a much stronger league. Most MLS clubs have taken advantage of the new partnership, and none more so than Sporting Kansas City.

Sporting quickly announced a partnership with the USL PRO’s juggernaut Orlando City SC. Through the partnership, SKC’s Dom Dwyer was sent to Orlando to score a USL PRO all-time record 15 goals, subsequently winning a championship and a starting spot on SKC’s team at the end of the season and through their run to the MLS Cup.

SKC also sent 2 homegrown players – leftback Kevin Ellis and goalkeeper Jon Kempin – to Orlando. Ellis showed improvement with a start in a league game last season, the first of his career. Late in the season, CJ Sapong was sent to OCSC to recover his form from the beginning of the year. Sapong would return to Sporting to score a crucial goal in the Eastern Conference Semifinal against Houston Dynamo.

Combined with Sporting’s already revered youth program, affiliations with reputable clubs across the country contribute to their success and depth.

With retired goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen at the helm of the new USL PRO club Oklahoma City Energy, Sporting’s potential for development of players becomes much more lucrative. Not only will 2 current players be loaned to Oklahoma City throughout the year, but Sporting’s network of players interested in and available to sign becomes much bigger with Nielsen as head coach. Nielsen’s Energy FC have just recently signed former Sporting KC players Cyprian Hedrick, Michael Thomas, and Kyle Miller. A youth player for Sporting, David Leichty, turned pro and signed with Oklahoma City last week.

Through development through a vast network of players and an ever-growing reputation for stability in ownership and management, Sporting KC will only go up from 2013 MLS Cup Champions. Whether a repeat is on the cards in 2014 or not, Sporting’s recent moves such as these are only indications that the club will continue to be on the cutting edge of American soccer.

Sporting’s next preseason match will be in Orlando, Fla. on Feb. 19 against New York Red Bulls at 3 p.m. EST.

NEXT UP: March 8 – Seattle Sounders vs. Sporting Kansas City, CenturyLink Field, Seattle, Wash. 3 p.m. EST, NBCSN

Skylar ROLSTAD

Nationality:
USA
College:
Univ. of Kansas
Club Domestic:
Sporting KC
Club Foreign:
AC Milan
A student at the University of Kansas. He writes for the Sporting Kansas City club column for Soccer Newsday and is a regular at Sporting Park. His passion for soccer can best be described as unhealthy.
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