Since the Homegrown Player initiative began in Major League Soccer in mid-2009, Sporting Kansas City has signed three Academy products to professional contracts as members of the senior team roster: goalkeeper Jon Kempin (2010) became the first, followed by defenders Kevin Ellis (2011) and Erik Palmer-Brown (2013). On Saturday, Ellis and Palmer-Brown played side-by-side in central defense at RFK Stadium -- marking the first time in team history that Sporting Kansas City's lineup featured two Homegrown Players on the field together in an MLS match.
Palmer-Brown entered in the game's ninth minute, replacing Aurelien Collin due to injury, after receiving words of encouragement from the Sporting KC coaching staff on the sideline.
"They trust in me. (They told me to) 'Go out there and do your thing, and just be confident. We know you can do it. Get in there and do your best.'"
Palmer-Brown, the youngest player in Major League Soccer at age 17, led all Sporting KC players with four tackles won and two blocks, while completing 35 of 42 passes. Ellis, voted SportingKC.com's Man of the Match, recorded a team-high 12 clearances and 10 duels won in his seventh appearance of the season.
"I felt really good with the way I performed," Palmer-Brown said postgame. "Right when I got in the game, Eddie (Johnson) got on that break and I did well to recover. Still, that shouldn't happen. I should be dropped off. But other than that, I felt really good about my performance."
Palmer-Brown wasn't the only teenager on the Sporting KC backline on Saturday, as 19-year-old Brazilian Igor Juliao made his fifth consecutive start for the club and made a team-best five interceptions. As a result, Sporting Kansas City remain the only club in Major League Soccer this season to field two players under the age of 20 in the same MLS match. Manager Peter Vermes has done so twice after Palmer-Brown and Juliao first featured together on May 18 at Chicago.
In fact, there are only 17 MLS players under the age of 20 who have made a League appearance during the 2014 season and only three clubs -- the Colorado Rapids (Dillon Serna & Charles Eloundou), LA Galaxy (Oscar Sorto & Raul Mendiola) and Sporting KC – have two players who have done so.
D.C. United's youngest player on Saturday? Twenty-three year old goalkeeper Bill Hamid, the league's first ever Homegrown Player, who made his professional debut on May 5, 2010 at RFK Stadium in a 2-1 win against Kansas City, the club's last win in the series until Saturday.