Sporting Kansas City signed 19-year-old defender Kevin Ellis as the second Home Grown Player in club history on Friday. Ellis is a product of the Sporting Kansas City Juniors academy and was presented at a press conference, sponsored by Providence Medical Center, at the team’s Swope Park Training Center.
Ellis was brought through the Sporting Kansas City Juniors academy for the last four years, highlighted by his participation with the Under-17 team in the inaugural SUM Cup in 2007 and most recently in the Kansas State Cup and Region II Regionals with the Under-19 team last year.
At the 2007 SUM U-17 Cup in Colorado, Ellis scored two goals in back-to-back minutes of the second half of the group finale against FC Dallas to lead the team to a 3-2 comeback victory. The Juniors then advanced to the championship match in the inaugural event with Ellis in the starting lineup throughout the tournament.
The Kansas City, Missouri native went on to score regularly for the Juniors in league and tournament competition, while also starring at Oak Park High School. He then attended Barton County Community College, where he led the school to back-to-back Region VI championships and NJCAA National Tournament appearances in 2009 and 2010.
As a freshman for the Cougars soccer program, Ellis recorded 23 goals and eight assists en route to earning NJCAA Second Team All-American honors. Last year, Ellis transitioned to defense while still contributing 11 goals and four assists and helping Barton County earn third place at the NJCAA National Tournament, the best finish in school history.
He was named the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference Defensive Player of the Year, and added All-Region VI First Team, NJCAA All-Tournament Team and NJCAA First Team All-American honors. His 34 goals and 80 points in the two-year career are an all-time school record.
Ellis was invited to Sporting Kansas City’s invitation-only combine in January at the Kansas City Chiefs Indoor Practice Facility, along with fellow Juniors product Konner Knoll. Ellis’ strong performance at the three-day combine earned him a spot on the team’s pre-season roster in Phoenix, Arizona, where he has trained with the first team for the last two weeks.
Ellis joins Sporting goalkeeper Jon Kempin as the second Home Grown Player on Kansas City’s 2011 roster. Kempin was signed in August 2010 and has represented the United States National Team at the Under-18 and Under-20 levels since graduating from Blue Valley North High School in December.
Major League Soccer established the Home Grown Player initiative in 2007 to permit teams to promote youth academy players to professional contracts, bypassing the league’s annual SuperDraft or traditional allocation process. These players must meet Home Grown Player regulations as determined by the League, including participation in the club’s youth system for at least one year.
Sporting Kansas City launched their Juniors youth development academy in 2007 to provide a professional-level environment for aspiring players to participate in and with the goal of producing players capable of joining the senior team. Providence Medical Center is the official sponsor of the Sporting Kansas City Juniors youth program, led by Director of Coaching Jon Parry.
There is no minimum age for a Home Grown Player, but the players cannot be older than 24. These players are also automatically protected in any necessary expansion drafts, and with expanded rosters this season, players occupying roster spots 21-30 will not count against the club’s salary budget. In the event a Home Grown Player is transferred, clubs keep 75% of any transfer or loan fee paid for the player.
The initiative has produced several promising players in Major League Soccer. D.C. United forward Andy Najar, the 2010 MLS Rookie of the Year, made his professional debut against Kansas City in the 2010 regular season opener and had five goals and an assist in 26 games played last year.
Transaction: Sporting Kansas City (MLS) sign defender Kevin Ellis as Home Grown Player.
Born: June 30, 1991
Hometown: Kansas City, Mo
Last Club: Sporting Kansas City Juniors