Kayden Pierre becomes the next Academy star to make the MLS jump

Sporting Kansas City announced Tuesday that the club has signed 18-year-old outside back Kayden Pierre as a Homegrown Player.

Born and raised in Rochester Hills, Michigan, Pierre joined the Sporting KC Academy in 2018 from Vardar SC in his native state. He went on to represent Sporting at the U-15, U-17 and U-19 levels before jumping to Sporting KC II in the USL Championship last fall. While in Kansas City, Pierre has lived with host families through a program currently supported by the Audi Goals Drive Progress initiative.

Pierre spoke to media Wednesday following his addition to Sporting’s MLS roster, which now features a league-high 12 academy products. His remarks are below.

On why he joined the Sporting KC Academy in 2018…

A few years ago in Indiana, I was playing with my old club Vardar. One day after a game, two SKC Academy coaches—Rumba (Munthali) and Josh (Duffy)—came and talked to my parents and convinced me to come down here and try to become a pro. That’s been my dream since I was a little kid. I’ve just been grinding through the U-15s, U-17s, U-19s and second team, and now I’m here with the first team to complete my goal.

On progressing from the Academy to SKC II to the first team…

It’s been going fast from playing Academy games to making my Sporting KC II debut last September, which was just a great honor. Preseason this year was a great experience getting to know the other guys in a first team environment. It’s just a different level than the Academy and SKC II.

On how his teammates have helped his transition into the first team…

They’re all funny and easy to talk to, and they’ve made it easy for me to transition. The vibe between us makes it easy and comfortable. I can play my best soccer when it feels fun and I feel good about myself, and they’ve made that easy.

On his playing style as an outside back…

One player I try to play like is Dani Alves. He was the best right back to watch on that Barcelona team when I was growing up. I try to play like him, but I pride myself on 1-v-1 defending and ball retention.

On the people who have helped him off the field and the host family program, currently supported by the Audi Goals Drive Progress initiative…

It took my parents a lot of convincing because I was only 14 years old when it happened. With Betsy Maxfield, Rumba Munthali and a bunch of people here making it welcoming for me, that made it easier for my parents. My mom also came down for the first six months and I had two host families that were caring and allowed me to focus on my school and soccer. The (host families) made it super easy to transition from Michigan to here. I thank (them) for everything.

On what he has learned from fellow Academy products like Gianluca Busio…

Busio signed when he was 15 and he just started grinding. Now he’s a regular in the starting lineup. It just shows that if you put in the time and effort, you can get there.

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