KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Soccer makes the world go round at one metro high school.
The East High School Bears (19-2-1) have advanced to the state semifinals for the first time in school history, and now, this cosmopolitan club, which is made of players with roots in many different nations, is targeting a Missouri state title.
The Bears, who became MSHSAA Class 3 District 8 champions last week, have run their streak without a loss to 17 consecutive matches, dating back to early September.
Of the team’s 20 players, coaches say every one of them was born outside the United States before their families moved to Kansas City’s diverse east side.
Typically, these players come from nations where soccer is actively celebrated, and they’ve combined their unique approaches to the game to win 19 of their 22 games so far.
On Saturday, the Bears blew out Jefferson City 6-0, sending East High to the Missouri Class 3 semifinals for the first time ever. EHS head coach Gerzo Guerrero, who was born in Venezuela, said the international approach works to this team’s advantage, since players are very aggressive to the ball.
“I always tell them the ball is like a treasure for us. The more we keep it, the better for us,” Guerrero said. “They know once we establish goals for the team, they just follow.”
Bears players believe their different methods on the pitch work in their favor, and taking East High to the Class 3 Final Four is its own reward.
“It’s truly great when we have players from different nations and different backgrounds and how they came together and mix up things,” Adulmuni Abdalla, Bears Center Midfielder who originally hails from Sudan, said.
“This is my biggest achievement, whether we win it or not. I’m still proud of myself and my teammates,” smiled Useni Mmunga, Bears Defender, whose family came from Tanzania, said.
“We’ve got one heart and we’re looking to win state and bring it home,” Louis Msafiri, Bears Midfielder, who immigrated from Burundi, said.
School support has kept the joy level especially high at East High. The Bears soccer program had only made it to the state quarterfinals once in school history, and that was six seasons ago. The 2022 success they’ve seen has been an international smash.
The Bears play in the Class 3 Final Four beginning Friday afternoon in Fenton, MO. They’ll be paired against Glendale, the most recent team to deal them a defeat, which was on September 10th.