The Sporting Development League (SDL), a new player development platform launched in 2020, featured friendly competition amongst Sporting Academy Affiliate clubs from across the region as well as the Sporting KC Academy throughout the Fall season. The league is formatted for top-level teams, consisting of 16 teams, eight clubs in each U13 and U14 age levels. SDL took place August through November with a flexible schedule that offered teams the freedom to participate in their regular league-play as well as participation in tournaments. Additionally, there were no registration fees or additional costs for teams competing in the SDL.
The competitions came to a close with a weekend finale of matches on November 14-15. Teams were placed into groups and competed in a round-robin format in order to determine placement for their final match. After group play, the top two teams in each group, of each age level, then competed for the SDL Championship. Academy Affiliate teams from Blue Valley, Missouri Valley, Omaha, Iowa, and Springfield were all represented along with the SKC Academy U12 and U13 teams playing up in older age levels with the U13 and U14, respectively. Sporting United teams, made up from a collection of players in urban communities from the Kansas City metro and coached by former SKC Academy player Hector Solorio Jr, also joined the SDL Championships competition.
The U14 age level was the first of two championship matches to be played, with Sporting United taking on the SKC Academy (U13) team, which ended up being a physical battle on both ends of the field. The SKC Academy scored midway through the first half off a set-piece opportunity at the edge of the penalty area that took a deflection into the back of the net giving them a 1-0 lead. The Academy later doubled their lead to make it 2-0 and would go onto win the U14 SDL Championship.
The U13 SDL Championship closed out the competition with Sporting Blue Valley matched up against the SKC Academy (U12) team. The match was very tightly kept throughout the first period with end-to-end action. It was late in the second period when the SKC Academy earned a penalty kick that was converted to make it 1-0. The third period was met with a barrage of late chances for Sporting Blue Valley to equalize but were ultimately unable to find the back of the net. The SKC Academy went on to become champions of the U13 age level of the Sporting Development League.
Aside from the high-level of competition, especially brought into the final weekend, the Sporting Development League is uniquely formatted with each match emphasizing player development, based within the rules and structure of the league itself. Coaches and staff had the opportunity to review SKC Academy style of play principles via video presentations conducted by the SKC Academy staff. In addition, teams had the opportunity to review their own styles of play to continue to learn how they can improve. This aspect of the league is a key component for players to compete in an ideal developmental environment going into each week of competition.
The Sporting Development League is set to begin the Spring campaign in late February.
To view the photos from Sporting Development League Championship weekend, click HERE. Use the passcode “2020SRL” to download.
For more information on Sporting Development League, please visit www.sportingkcyouth.com.