Sporting KC’s second Homegrown Player in club history, five-year defender Kevin Ellis enjoyed a career season in 2015 with five goals in 33 appearances across all competitions. His four regular season goals ranked first among MLS defenders and were the most by a defender in a single season during the Opta era (2011-present). He had a breakout campaign in 2014 as he made 21 appearances and 17 starts in MLS, including his playoff debut.
Ellis developed in the Sporting KC Academy while attending Oak Park High School before playing collegiately at Barton County Community College in 2009-10. He scored his first competitive goal for the club in March 2014, sparking a 1-0 win over Cruz Azul (Mexico) in the 2013-14 CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal first leg at Sporting Park.
2015: MLS regular season: Started 26 of 27 appearances, recorded four goals and one assist, and contributed to eight clean sheets (2335 minutes played). Led all players with 12 clearances in a 0-0 shutout at Seattle on May 23. Scored the first goal of his MLS career and added an assist in a 4-0 win over FC Dallas on May 29, earning MLS Team of the Week honors (Week 13). Scored the first game-winning goal of his MLS career in a 1-0 win at Vancouver on July 12. Earned MLS Team of the Week honors in Week 23 after a 3-1 win at Toronto FC on Aug. 8. Scored the team's opening goal in a 4-3 win over Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Aug. 15 as Sporting KC came from two goals behind after the 80th minute to complete one of the best comebacks in MLS history. Scored the team's opening goal in a 2-1 win over LA Galaxy on Oct. 26 as Sporting KC beat LA Galaxy to clinch a playoff spot on the final day of the regular season. MLS Cup Playoffs: Started and played 120 minutes in Sporting KC's 7-6 penalty kick shootout loss at Portland after a 2-2 draw through regulation. Scored an 87th-minute equalizer to force extra tme, the latest equalizer in the club's postseason history. Open Cup: Earned five starts and played the entirety of every match. Started and played 90 minutes in a 1-0 fourth round win over Saint Louis FC on June 16. Started and played 90 minutes in a 6-2 fifth round win over FC Dallas on July 1. Started and played 90 minutes in a 3-1 quarterfinal win over the Houston Dynamo on July 21. Started and played 90 minutes in a 3-1 semifinal win over Real Salt Lake on Aug. 12. Started and played 120 minutes in a championship win over the Philadelphia Union on Sept. 30 as Sporting KC prevailed 7-6 in penalty kicks after a 1-1 draw in regulation. He converted his penalty kick in the shootout.
2014: MLS regular season: Played in 20 matches, 16 of them starts, and contributed to five shutouts with three assists. Was named to MLSsoccer.com's MLS Team of the Week on June 9 and June 30 (Weeks 14 and 16) after playing 90 minutes in Sporting KC's shutout wins over the Houston Dynamo and Portland Timbers, respectively. Played 90 minutes in three of team's first four MLS matches before going on loan to USL PRO affiliate OKC Energy FC on April 21. Was recalled to Sporting KC on May 16 and made five straight starts at centerback from May 23 to June 27. Earned his first career assist on Lawrence Olum's goal in a 1-0 win over the Portland Timbers on June 27. Assisted Paulo Nagamura's goal in a 3-2 loss to New England on Sept. 26. Assisted Graham Zusi's game-winning goal in a 2-0 win against Chicago on Oct. 10. MLS Playoffs: Played 90 minutes in a 2-1 loss at New York in the Eastern Conference Knockout Round (Oct. 30). CCL: Played 90 minutes in both legs of the 2013-14 CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals vs. Cruz Azul. He scored his first career goal for the club in the first leg on March 12, a 1-0 victory. Started two matches (180 minutes) in the 2014-15 group stage. Open Cup: Played 90 minutes in a 2-0 fourth round win over Minnesota United FC on June 18. Played 90 minutes in a 3-1 fifth round loss to Portland on June 24. Friendly: Played 45 minutes in a 4-1 Champions Shield defeat to Manchester City on July 23 at Sporting Park. USL PRO: Made five appearances (446 minutes) for OKC Energy FC.
2013: MLS: Made first MLS appearance as a sub in a 3-2 win over the Columbus Crew on June 29. Started first MLS match in 1-1 home draw vs. the Vancouver Whitecaps on June 3. Open Cup: Made his first career start on June 12 in the fourth round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup vs Orlando City SC.
2012: Ellis made ten appearances for Sporting Kansas City in the 2012 MLS Reserve League with seven starts. Additionally, Ellis played the full 90 minutes in both international friendly matches during the 2012 season, starting at left back against Montpellier Herault SC on July 24 and again eight days later against Stoke City FC on August 1. Ellis helped Sporting Kansas City salvage a 1-1 draw in second half stoppage time against the English Premier League side. In the match, Ellis earned the first shot on goal when he was on the receiving end of a corner kick, heading it into the arms of Stoke City FC goalkeeper Asmir Begovic.