Soccer

Audi's 'The Academy' mini-docuseries chronicles struggles to go pro in the MLS

"The Academy" follows the journey of Sporting Kansas City players.

Photo courtesy of Audi AG/MLS/Bleacher Report

Audi and Major League Soccer (MLS) announced a five-part docuseries that shines a spotlight on developing the next generation of soccer stars. "The Academy" will debut on Wednesday, August 19.

The series follows Sporting Kansas City's youth academy, one of the 94 North American academy clubs that have strategically aligned themselves with MLS's player development platform. During the 2019 season, MLS invested $70 million in the program.

"The Academy" provides an all-access look at the commitments and sacrifices that young athletes make to become professional soccer players, showing the work that the players and MLS are putting in to develop next-generation talent. The series features a detailed look at tactical meetings, closed training sessions, and how Sporting Kansas City's Academy managed the transition to remote and virtual trainings, as well as season delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sporting Kansas City The Academy The docuseries debuts August 19.Photo courtesy of Sporting Kansas City

"This is the first look that any fans will have at one of the most respected soccer academies in the U.S. and a chance to catch a glimpse of who could be tomorrow's greatest stars," said Raphael Poplock, SVP of New Business Development, Bleacher Report. "We faced a unique challenge to create a very personal documentary from remote and social distanced settings during this period and think we have captured exceptional stories from the Sporting Kansas City's Academy player's journey."

Prominent Sporting Kansas City personalities are featured in the episodes, including Sporting Kansas City Manager and Sporting Director Peter Vermes, Academy coach Rumbani Munthali, Homegrown midfielder Gianluca Busio, along with Academy players Gage Akalu, Nati Clarke, Osvaldo Cisneros, and Jake Davis.

"The Sporting Kansas City Academy is a core part of our club, and receiving this tremendous support from Audi helps us with so much, including housing and transportation within our Academy," said Peter Vermes, Sporting Kansas City Manager & Sporting Director. "Our focus will continue to be placed on having a clear and productive pro-pathway from the Academy to the first team, and the Audi Goals Drive Progress initiative helps us immensely in achieving that goal."

Audi has supported the Academies for years. As of April 2020, the company has committed more than $1 million including a program funded by Audi that eliminates transportation barriers for Academies teams. Academy players who benefitted from the program have been signed to First team, Homegrown pro contracts. The Houston Dynamo was able to use funds to help transport student-athletes who otherwise would not be able to participate in the Academy program. The New England Revolution installed a new Audi Performance Center at their training facility and developed a shuttle program to help with player transportation. The Portland Timbers secured vehicles to transport players and eliminate recruitment challenges due to geographic limitations.

"Audi's commitment to MLS has always focused on advancing the game of soccer in North America, so we thought it was important to put a personal face on that commitment by showcasing these young players and their experiences," said Shawna Burtscher, director of Experiential Marketing, Audi of America. "We think of 'The Academy' as a much-needed source of inspiration to soccer fans everywhere.

The docuseries will debut on BleacherReport.com.

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The iX M60 will hit dealers' lots in June 2022.

BMW

BMW's electric vehicle catalog is growing rapidly as the automaker rolls out new electrified cars and SUVs. The latest is the iX M60, a red-hot five-seat SUV with sleek styling and a spectacular list of standard features. BMW announced the new SUV this week, along with pricing and release date details.

The iX M60 is BMW's first performance-oriented electric SUV, though BMW calls it a sports activity vehicle, or SAV. Its powertrain has been massaged to produce up to 610 horsepower and 811 pound-feet of torque. Maximum power delivery is limited to times when the vehicle's launch control is activated, but even the "normal" numbers are impressive: In regular driving situations, the iX puts down 532 horsepower and 749 pound-feet of torque. Acceleration to 60 mph takes 3.6 seconds and the iX M60 can go on to an electronically-limited top speed of 155 mph.

2023 BMW iX M60 Though extremely sporty, BMW doesn't shy away from using loads of luxurious finishes and materials. BMW

The iX brings more than performance, as its charging capabilities are quite strong. Using AC power, the vehicle can charge from 0-100 percent in 10.25 hours on its fastest setting. Using its fastest DC power setting, the iX can charge from 10 to 80% in just 35 minutes.

Two electric motors power the SUV, which provide standard all-wheel drive. Dual-axle air suspension is standard, along with electronically-controlled shock absorbers. BMW says that the air suspension is controlled individually at each wheel, so the vehicle can adjust ride height in several ways to maintain stability and remain level in corners.

2023 BMW iX M60 The vehicle can run from 0-60 mph in under four seconds and features standard AWD.BMW

When it goes on sale in June, 2022, the 2023 BMW iX M60 will have a starting price of $106,095, which includes a $995 destination charge. That's a flagship price tag, but the SUV's got the performance and a flagship-level list of standard features. That six-figure dollar amount buys 21-inch wheels, heated and ventilated front seats, wireless phone charging, AC fast charging, a panoramic sunroof, LED headlights, a Bowers & Wilkins Diamond Surround Sound System, four-zone automatic climate controls, and more.

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The EQXX Concept features a crazy driving range.

Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes-Benz is putting its century-plus of automotive experience into building electric cars, and the results are impressive. The EQS is an electric flagship with great range, and the automaker has unveiled several concepts to show its future plans. The Vision EQXX concept debuted today as an ultra-efficient luxury EV with astonishing range numbers.

Mercedes-Benz EQXX Concept Mercedes focused on efficiency over power with the car. Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes' focus with the EQXX is efficiency over power, as it says the car is its most efficient it has ever made. The EQXX uses less than 10 kWh per 100 kilometers (around 62 miles), which equates to 620 miles on a single charge. The battery was designed with tech and knowledge from Mercedes-AMG Formula 1 team, especially when it comes to size and weight. The EQXX's battery pack is 50 percent smaller by volume and 30 percent lighter than the pack in the EQS, which already featured astonishing efficiency.

The car's impressive range comes at the expense of horsepower, which in this case means just 201 ponies from the EQXX's electric drivetrain. Mercedes says that the system is capable of delivering up to 95 percent energy efficiency - an impressive figure for power delivery to the wheels. Extremely efficient gas powertrains only achieve around 30 percent efficiency and a human long-distance runner can hit around 50 percent.

Mercedes-Benz EQXX Concept The EQXX is impressively slippery, which improves its range.

The EQXX is a slippery car, too, and with a drag coefficient of just 0.17, the car cuts through the air with ease. The typical EV uses up to two-thirds of its battery capacity just to push through the air, so the EQXX's aerodynamics is a big part of its efficiency. The other big part is Mercedes' thermal management system, which uses shutters and cooling plates to maintain an ideal battery and electric drive unit temperature. The plates allow the EQXX to gain about 12 miles of range in its most aerodynamic mode.

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