Kalen Ricketson with Matt Besler and Graham Zusi

Sporting Kansas City announced today that the club will sign Kalen Ricketson, an 18-year-old battling osteosarcoma, ahead of this Sunday’s match at Children’s Mercy Park.


“We are very excited for Kalen to join our team as we prepare to face Real Salt Lake,” Sporting KC Manager Peter Vermes said. “His tremendous courage and fighting spirit make him a great addition to our roster, and we look forward to sharing this great experience with him and all of our fans.”


Ricketson, from Stillwater, Okla., has battled bone cancer since being diagnosed in December 2015, when he underwent his first of 13 surgeries over the last three years. In 2016, reoccurring tumors were discovered near his left elbow on two separate occasions and in 2017, the cancer spread to his left wrist. 


Amidst six rounds of chemotherapy treatment and two weeks removed from wrist replacement surgery, Ricketson was a special guest at Children’s Mercy Park on July 29, 2017 along with his parents, Chad and Crystal, and siblings, Alissa and Cole. Ricketson was the first Victory Project honoree to sit in the Victory Suite’s orange chair, in tribute to the late Neal Patterson, as part of Sporting Kansas City’s tradition of honoring a child with cancer at every home match.


This year, Ricketson’s left arm was amputated between the shoulder and the elbow in response to new tumor growth. The Victory Project helped cover costs incurred by the family for the procedure and, in May, Ricketson graduated from Meridian Technology Center with a certificate in computer networking.


In July, Ricketson learned his cancer had returned when a chest CT scan revealed tumors in his lungs, requiring right lung surgery on July 16 and left lung surgery on Aug. 21.


Three weeks later, Ricketson recovered to attend his first U.S. Men’s National Team match – a 1-0 victory over Mexico on Sept. 11 in Nashville – and will now continue his momentous month as the newest member of Sporting Kansas City’s roster, complete with the number 24 uniform, for the club’s annual Childhood Cancer Awareness Match.


The game, a rematch of the 2013 MLS Cup, will be part of MLS WORKS’ League-wide Kick Childhood Cancer campaign featuring numerous special gameday elements:


  • Gold-themed adidas Nativo match balls, corner flags, goal nets, captain’s armbands, commemorative jersey patches and custom-designed jersey numbers featuring the childhood cancer awareness ribbon
  • Kick Childhood Cancer scarves and t-shirts worn by players, coaches and referees during pre-game


The Victory Project, launched by Sporting Kansas City in 2013 to help children battling cancer, will also welcome more than 50 families the foundation has assisted for a special halftime ceremony to celebrate Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.


Ricketson is the latest individual to have a wish granted through The Victory Project’s Sporting Wishes initiative, which fulfills dreams of youth who are diagnosed with a secondary cancer or relapse after treatment. To learn more, visit VictoryKC.org.


Sporting Wishes granted by The Victory Project
     Gavin (13, Ewings Sarcoma) - Trip to Hawaii
     Olivia (7, rhabdomyosarcoma) - Trip to Disney World
     Sam (19, osteosarcoma) - Trip to Florida Keys
     Rush (6, pediatric hepatoblastoma) - Trip to New Orleans and puppy
     Kaiden (12, acute lymphoblastic leukemia) - Trip to Hawaii
     Elliott (6, juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia) - Trip to Pittsburgh
     Hannah (13, medulloblastoma) - Trip to Alaska
     Jordan (15, medulloblastoma) - Gaming room makeover
     Raef (16, hepatoblastoma) – Trip to Universal Studios and Disney World
     Kalen (18, osteosarcoma) – Sporting KC player for a day