This story was originally published December 8th but has been updated to include the fifth and final part of the documentary.
Over the last several months Sporting Kansas City in partnership with Audi and Bleacher Report Football, have been putting out a multi-part series following the SKC Academy through their 2020 season. Obviously COVID-19 has greatly impacted the season but the series continues to give a behind the scenes look at potential future first team players like Osvaldo Cisneros, Jake Davis (who has already signed with SKC II), Nati Clarke and Gage Akalu (we have more on Nati and Gage).
The series highlights the various programs available through the SKC Academy like their host family program and their chauffeur program which are partially funded by the partnership with Audi.
Each episode is less than 10 minutes and are a quick watch and a great way to get even the tiniest insight into what Sporting are building in their academy and in terms of future talent.
Throughout the episodes there are appearances and interviews with the above mentioned players but also with members of the Sporting KC organization and individuals outside the organization. Former MLS veteran and current ESPN commentator Taylor Twellman features alongside SKC Head Coach and Sporting Director Peter Vermes in the first episode which sets up the series and probably has more of Jake Davis than any other player.
Another staple of the first episode is Sporting KC first team midfielder/winger Gianluca Busio. The 18-year-old finally broke through in 2020 and became a regular contributor for the first team (“finally” feels silly at a young age but he signed at just 15).
Present throughout the episodes are academy coach Rumbani Munthali, who is the head coach of the U-17 and U-19 squads, and Academy Director Jon Parry. Another reoccurring member of the staff is Director of Player Care, Betsy Maxfield. In episode two, Parry lays out Maxfield’s duties and she was a featured guest on a previous episode of the Sporting KC Show in 2019 that’s worth a listen. The featured player of episode two is Ozzie Cisneros who is unfortunately dealing with a minor injury during the episode.
"You're going to find out what these kids are made of, who wants to be a real pro when they come back."— B/R Football (@brfootball) September 30, 2020
After life in @SportingKC's Academy was paused, the players had to return hungrier than ever to keep their dreams in reach.
[From B/R Football x @Audi] #GoalsDriveProgress pic.twitter.com/hfHI4hFLpU
The featured player of episode three is Nati Clarke and he tells the story of growing up in Ethiopia and getting adopted and coming to Kansas, as detailed in this fantastic piece in the Kansas City Star. This episode also features the first games with SKC facing St. Louis FC. In the episode Cisneros talks about how some of the St. Louis players tried to play in KC but “they just couldn’t make it.” Shade thrown.
Munthali also highlights the play of Zahir Dyke and Edward Mendy.
In episode four Gage Akalu gets the feature treatment. Parry calls him “one of our top talents.” Akalu is another 15-year-old from Ethiopia. Unfortunately, Akalu is also dealing with an injury in the episode. Munthali describes other teams intentionally beating up on Akalu who is playing up from the U-15s to the U-19s at times.
“If I don’t play soccer, I’d probably just — I don’t even know.”— B/R Football (@brfootball) December 1, 2020
From injuries to cancellations, it’s a fight for survival every day at The Academy.
(From B/R Football x @Audi) #GoalsDriveProgress pic.twitter.com/MT1E39fVr9
The final part of The Academy is below but there was quite the tease at the end of part four as the narrator says we’ll “learn who’s on the verge of seeing their dreams come true.” It turned out to be Osvaldo Cisneros who they were teasing (as of this writing, he hasn’t been signed). “I think Ozzie is the closest to becoming a pro,” said Munthali. Clarke, Akalu, Cisneros and Davis all have to be favorites to be the next candidates for first team contracts. Catch the final part below.