USLSoccer.com Staff Report
Thursday, March 10, 2016
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Swope Park Rangers announced on Thursday the club had signed defender Ezra Armstrong, midfielder Will Little and goalkeeper Steven Tekesky to Academy contracts ahead of the 2016 USL season.
Since 2013, USL clubs have been permitted to sign players from their club’s academy to Academy contracts, which allows the player to compete in the league while also maintaining the player’s eligibility for NCAA Men’s Soccer. Last season, the New York Red Bulls II’s Derrick Etienne was a notable Academy signing, as he performed strongly in the USL before his freshman season at the University of Virginia. Etienne signed as an MLS Homegrown Player this offseason with the Red Bulls.
“It was very important from the start to have a relationship between Sporting KC, the Swope Park Rangers and the Academy,” Swope Park Rangers Head Coach Marc Dos Santos said. “Signing Ezra, Will and Steven shows our commitment to continuing that integration and shows Academy players that they’ll always have a chance of moving up the ranks. The Rangers give them that stepping stone moving forward, so I think it’s a credit to the Academy and the individual players.”
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Armstrong is the son of U.S. Soccer Hall of Fame member Desmond Armstrong, and appeared in all four of the Rangers’ contests at the recent Desert Diamond Cup in Tucson, Ariz. Armstrong has made more than 35 appearances with the SKC Academy Under-16 and Under-18 teams in the USSF Development Academy, scoring four goals.
Little has been a standout in midfield for SKC Academy’s U18s this season, recording eight goals in 16 appearances for the side. A native of Johnson City, Tenn., Little joined the SKC Academy just over a year ago, and has also made more than 35 appearances for the club’s academy teams.Tekesky joined the SKC Academy in 2010, and has made 16 starts in goal for the SKC U18s this season, posting six shutouts and recording a 1.29 goals against average. In 2014, the 18-year-old was among 54 MLS Academy players selected for the Generation adidas Elite Soccer Program (ESP) event held in Portland, Ore. where he trained and played against other elite MLS Academy players as well as Bayern Munich’s Under-16 team.