Kaveh Rad - Sporting KC at Real Salt Lake - May 1, 2021

Sporting KC Show Podcast: Kaveh Rad reflects on rise from Academy standout to MLS starter

Running throughout the season on Sports Radio 810 WHB, the Sporting Kansas City Show is available on several podcast hubs including Spotify and iTunes as well as SportingKC.com. With Nate Bukaty and Aly Trost hosting the weekly program, Sporting fans have a place to go to catch up on club storylines, guest interviews and more.

The year is still young, but 2021 has already treated Sporting Kansas City defender Kaveh Rad to an absolute whirlwind in the best way possible.

The 19-year-old Sporting Kansas City Academy product entered the season under USL Championship contract with Sporting KC II. However, the center back was given an opportunity to train with the first team during a month-long preseason camp in Arizona earlier this spring. Rad cashed in on the chance to make a strong impression—so strong that he earned himself an MLS contract in the process.

Fast-forward one month and Rad has already debuted in Major League Soccer. The North Carolina native played all 90 minutes in Sporting’s loss at Real Salt Lake on Saturday, becoming the second-youngest Sporting center back to compete in an MLS match.

“It’s been crazy and a big change of environment, but I’ve just been waiting for this moment and I want to enjoy it,” Rad said in a new episode of the Sporting KC Show on Tuesday night. “Being around the first team guys daily is making me appreciate the position I’m in right now.”

Despite the defeat to RSL, Rad drew praise from Sporting Manager Peter Vermes after the game and was elated to gain such an invaluable experience this early into his first MLS season. He also shed light on the fact that he wasn’t entirely sure he was starting against RSL until the team entered the Rio Tinto Stadium locker room roughly 90 minutes before kickoff.

“You don’t know officially if you’re starting until you walk into the locker room before the game,” Rad said. “All of the guys were saying, ‘You deserve it; you’ve worked hard for this.’ They have just as much trust in me as any other player on the team. I was appreciative of that.”

In a wide-ranging interview, Rad went on to discuss how he and his twin brother Jahon—who plays professionally for Sporting KC II—wound up in Kansas City after growing up in Durham, North Carolina. After being scouted by coaches from Sporting, the Rads decided to take a leap of faith and move to Kansas City as 15-year-olds.

While developing in the Sporting KC Academy, the Rad brothers lived with a host family through a program currently supported by the Audi Goals Drive Progress initiative. They quickly settled into leading roles on the field, delivering performances that ultimately landed them professional opportunities within Sporting’s player pathway.

Listen to the full podcast above or at SportingKC.com/SportingKCShow, with the episode also featuring insight from Austin FC commentator Lincoln Rose. Sporting, of course, are in full preparation mode ahead of Sunday’s high-profile home tilt against expansion side Austin FC at 6:30 p.m. CT.

The occasion will serve as a reunion for Austin FC head coach Josh Wolff, assistant Davy Arnaud and defender Matt Besler, all of whom have cemented themselves as Kansas City legends.

A limited number of tickets for the contest are available at SeatGeek.com and fans can catch the action live on FS1, FOX Deportes, the FOX Sports app, Sports Radio 810 WHB and La Grande 1340 AM.