The Full 90

Two Sporting KC Academy players sign with Swope Park Rangers

Felipe Hernandez scored seven goals in nine games for the Sporting Academy U-18 team.
Felipe Hernandez scored seven goals in nine games for the Sporting Academy U-18 team. Swope Park Rangers

A pair of Sporting KC Academy teenagers have landed their first professional contracts.

The Swope Park Rangers, a development team for Sporting Kansas City, announced Friday that they have signed Will Little and Felipe Hernandez to United Soccer League contracts. Both players are 18-year-olds who were members of the Sporting KC Academy.

Their USL deals are pending league approval.

“Felipe and Will are two very talented players (who) are part of a group of academy players (who) we are going to give a chance to this season,” first-year Swope Park Rangers head coach Nikola Popovic said. “Felipe is a dynamic midfielder with good vision, with the capacity to contribute in the final third. Will is a player who can explore the right channel with speed, and he’s a player with a very good mentality that can be used in several positions on the wing.”

The two signings represent an increased focus from Swope Park to fill its roster with players who could eventually graduate to Sporting KC.

Hernandez joined the club’s academy before the 2014-15 season after participating for an affiliate in Nashville, Tenn. While playing for the Sporting Academy U-18 team, he has scored seven goals in nine games this season. Hernandez was born in Colombia but raised in Nashville.

Little made nine appearances for the Swope Park Rangers last year while on an academy contract. He plays a wide attacking position and has scored three times in 11 appearances for the U-18 team this season. Little is also a Tennessee native, but he relocated to Kansas City two years ago.