St. Croix Soccer Club, of the Minneapolis-Saint Paul area in Minnesota, has officially joined forces with Sporting Kansas City and Sporting Club as the newest Academy Affiliate in the Sporting Club Network. Rebranded as Sporting St. Croix, they will now be the most northern Academy Affiliate, expanding the program’s reach into Minnesota and Wisconsin, while giving players of that region a direct path to the Sporting Kansas City senior team.
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Sporting St. Croix is comprised of 56 competitive teams and nearly 800 competitive players, the most elite of which will wear the coveted Sporting St. Croix Academy badge and compete in more competitive leagues such as the MLS MRL-Pro Affiliate League formed by affiliate teams of Sporting KC, the Chicago Fire and the Columbus Crew. In 2013, St. Croix teams took home seven different Minnesota State Cup Championships. Beyond the competitive teams, Sporting St. Croix also helps develop over 300 recreational players annually through their St. Croix Kickers program.
“We are thrilled to have Sporting St. Croix as the newest member of the Sporting Club Network,” Sporting Kansas City Academy Director of Coaching Jon Parry said. “Sporting St. Croix is a strong program that has become a staple in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul region. We look forward to growing this partnership with them and continuing our quest to find more talent for Sporting KC.”
In an effort to better scout and improve the youth talent throughout the Midwest, and more importantly support the overall growth of the game throughout this region, Sporting Kansas City is continually looking to develop new Academy Affiliate relationships. Sporting St. Croix Coaching Director Nathan Klonecki believes this new partnership with the 2013 MLS Cup Champions will serve both purposes.
“The knowledge and connections that Sporting KC offers will give Sporting St. Croix players a better opportunity and greater potential to continue their sporting careers beyond youth club soccer,” Klonecki said.
Players that participate and compete through the Academy Affiliate program will be directly connected to Sporting Kansas City’s Academy and youth development initiatives. In turn, they will have the opportunity to gain valuable experience while receiving heightened levels of training and development. Beyond this, all Sporting St. Croix players will now be invited to partake in the annual Academy Affiliate Tournament, an event that brings together many of the most competitive and talented youth soccer players from across the Midwest, all under the Sporting Club umbrella. Select Sporting St. Croix players will also be named to Academy Affiliate All-Star Teams throughout the year, offering these players a chance to learn the game in the same environment and setting as Sporting KC’s own Academy and first-team players.
As an Academy Affiliate member, Sporting St. Croix becomes an extension of the Sporting KC Academy and therefore an extension of the club’s scouting network. The relationship between the Sporting Club Network and Sporting St. Croix will be play a large part in the overall growth of soccer in the Midwest by elevating the level of youth soccer in the region, while also offering extensive new benefits that will directly impact the improvement of these players. In the search for the next homegrown star that will wear the Sporting Kansas City crest and win championships at Sporting Park, the St. Croix Valley and surrounding area will now be a location closely linked with Sporting KC to look for and develop future talent.