Sporting Iowa Boys Make The Jump To SKC Academy

Pictured above from left to right: Elliott Idehen, Vyamungu Shemi, Sporting KC U-17 head coach Rumbani Munthali, Eli Crow and Recardo Wleh.

The Sporting Kansas City Academy U-17s have welcomed four new players to the team from Sporting Iowa, an Academy Affiliate based in Des Moines.

Seventeen-year-olds Eli Crow, Elliott Idehen, Vyamungu Shemi and Recardo Wleh have officially made the jump from Affiliate to Academy, joining head coach Rumbani Munthali’s squad for the rest of the 2017-18 U.S. Soccer Development Academy Season.

Crow, Idehen, Shemi and Wleh — who have helped Sporting Iowa win four State Cup championships in a row — enjoyed a successful week of trialing last month at Swope Soccer Village in front of Munthali and Sporting KC U-19 head coach Jon Parry. Sporting Iowa’s affiliate partnership with Sporting KC has given all four players a platform to excel and earn an opportunity to become even more engrained in Sporting KC’s culture and development pathway.

“They really grab your attention with how they play. They love the game for what is it and want to improve each and every day,” said Sporting Iowa coach Rich Bywater, who has coached the group since they were 14 years old. “As a coach, you always want to maximize potential in each player, and that’s our philosophy at Sporting Iowa.”

Nick Crow, Eli’s father, expressed excitement about the players’ move and lauded the strong connection between Sporting KC and Sporting Iowa,

“We are amazed and honored at the support this community has for Sporting KC and its affiliates,” Mr. Crow said. “To be part of a team with so much passion for soccer is contagious. We appreciated the energy and effort put in by the Sporting KC staff to help these newcomers succeed. This has been a great experience for our family.”

The quartet’s move from Iowa to Kansas City marks a significant step in the evolution of the Sporting KC Academy Affiliate program. As the relationship between the Academy and its Affiliate clubs continues to grow, Sporting KC has acted to provide more resources and attention toward supporting players who are selected to join the Sporting KC Academy from regional affiliates.

With players relocating from other U.S. states and countries abroad, off-the-field care of Sporting KC athletes has reached upmost importance. As a result, Betsy Maxfield, Sporting KC Director of Player Care, has led a concentrated effort to help players transition from their hometowns to Kansas City.

As this exciting transformation continues to unfold, Sporting KC is seeking host families to welcome visiting players into their homes. Those interested in providing a host family for Sporting KC Academy players can apply online or contact Maxfield at or 773-343-5099.