Kaw Valley Soccer Association youths get taste of Sporting Kansas City in Lawrence

Before I get into the Kaw Valley Soccer Association goodness, I’ll quickly recap Sporting KC’s Saturday game against the Colorado Rapids.

Kansas City played well throughout on both sides of the ball. They were up against the defending MLS champions, again on the road and following a disappointing loss a week before. Sporting had to come from behind but did so in dominating fashion. They moved the ball well and created chance after chance. Finally the team’s work was rewarded with a blast from Ryan Smith in the 75th minute.

The point is more than just a point for a team that had been struggling so mightily as of late. It’s perfect timing leading into the team’s final road game of its 10 game season-opening road trip. Only one more game stands between the team and its home opener on June 9.

The point was well deserved and the confidence that should come with it may just make for an interesting home portion to Sporting’s season.

A few Sporting Kansas City players and staff were in south Lawrence Thursday evening for a training session with some of the area’s active soccer youths.

The kids, all involved with the Kaw Valley Soccer Association, had an opportunity to pass, dribble shoot and play small-sided scrimmages with some of the Sporting KC players, including Overland Park product Matt Besler and Luke Sassano.

The event happened in large part because of a recent announcement made by Sporting Kansas City and its parent company, Sporting Club. The partnership named KVSA as an exclusive affiliate of the team’s Sporting Juniors Program.

The whole idea of the program is pretty neat and it’s a great opportunity for Lawrence and other area soccer players to get exposure with the professional team. The goal of the program is to find and develop local talent for the professional ranks of Major League Soccer. The partnership also enhances the coaching and training made available to members of KVSA. The idea is to have consistent coaching and training through all developmental levels in the league, perhaps to ensure smooth transitions for those players possessing the skills required to play professionally in the U.S.

For a [full photo gallery, click here.][2]

The kids who attended the event Thursday seemed to be excited by the opportunity. They hung around to get player autographs and stayed afterward to continue to play.

They also had a short question and answer session with 24-year-old Besler and 25-year-old Sassano, taking advantage by asking anything they could think of. Some of their questions were not unlike some on this blog, including wondering the reason for the team’s name change. Here are a few of the kids’ questions and players’ responses:

Q: What do you guys eat?

Sassano: Mostly chicken and pasta. It’s boring stuff but it’s good for you.

Besler: And fruit, we like to eat fruit before games.

Q: What are your favorite teams besides Sporting Kansas City?

Besler: I am a fan of Manchester United.

Sassano: I’m going to go with Barcelona. (Cheers from kids) No I’m a Man U fan, too. Sorry guys.

Q: Who are your favorite players?

Besler: I like to watch Messi (Lionel Messi of Argentina and Barcelona) play because he’s scores a lot of goals and also Christiano (Christiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid) but I also like to watch a few defenders since that’s the position I play. So I like Rio Ferdinand (of Manchester United) and Xavi, if anyone knows Barcelona players.

Q: What’s your least favorite team to play in MLS? Who’s your rival?

Besler: Personally I really don’t like the New York Red Bull.

Sassano: I don’t like Chicago.

Q: What colleges did you guys go to?

Sassano: I went to a school in California called UC-Berkeley.

Besler: I went to the University of Notre Dame.

Next Wednesday I’ll be interviewing Don Garber, the commissioner of MLS. If you have anything you’d like me to ask, feel free to let me know in the comments.