Sporting Kansas City has signed free agent defender and Costa Rican international Rodney Wallace, the club announced on Friday. Wallace has been added to the Sporting KC roster, signing a one-year contract for the 2019 season.
“Sporting KC is a passionate club that knows how to win,” Wallace said. “There are a lot of key aspects here to winning, from the players and staff to the facilities and fans. The soccer atmosphere in Kansas City gives the team that extra edge, and I am excited to come here and be a part of something special.”
Wallace has recorded 26 goals and 33 assists in 214 MLS appearances (including playoffs) since beginning his professional career in 2009. The versatile veteran, who was a 2013 MLS All-Star and a 2015 MLS Cup champion with the Portland Timbers, arrives in Kansas City after a two-year stint with New York City FC.
“Rodney has strong qualities as a soccer player and the type of mentality that we always search for,” Sporting KC Manager Peter Vermes said. “He is incredibly competitive and can impact the game with and without the ball. I see him fitting into our team really quickly, and I’m extremely excited to add someone of his caliber to our roster.”
In addition to spending nine seasons in MLS, Wallace played for Portuguese club FC Arouca and Brazilian side Sport Recife in 2016. He has also tallied four goals in 32 matches for the Costa Rica Men’s National Team, notably featuring at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia this summer after competing at the Concacaf Gold Cup in 2013 and 2017.
Wallace, 30, started 34 of 46 MLS appearances for New York City FC from 2017-2018, where he notched five goals and eight assists while helping the club to consecutive appearances in the MLS Cup Playoffs. He boasted a 7-2-0 record as a starter in 2018 as NYCFC placed third in the Eastern Conference and totaled 16 regular-season wins for the second straight year.
Selected as the No. 6 overall pick in the 2009 MLS SuperDraft, Wallace had three goals and three assists as a rookie with D.C. United before adding another two assists in 2010. He joined the Timbers ahead of their inaugural 2011 campaign and was an influential contributor for Portland over the next five years.
As a left-sided midfielder and defender, Wallace experienced a breakout year in 2013 when he scored a career-high seven goals with six assists and propelled Portland to the MLS Cup Playoffs for the first time. He assisted two goals during the 2013 postseason as the Timbers ultimately fell to Real Salt Lake in the Western Conference Championship.
After missing the first half of 2014 with a knee injury, Wallace bounced back to record five goals and one assist over the final 17 games of the season. These performances resulted in 2014 MLS Comeback Player of the Year honors and set the stage for Wallace to reach even greater heights the following year.
Wallace made a career-high 32 regular-season appearances in 2015 for a Portland side that finished third in the Western Conference standings. The Timbers would meet Sporting KC in the single-elimination Knockout Round, where Wallace scored in a dramatic match that saw Portland advance on penalty kicks after a 2-2 draw. He was also influential in the 2015 MLS Cup, bagging the game-winner as Portland were crowned champions with a 2-1 victory over Columbus Crew SC.
In 2016, Wallace continued his career abroad in the top divisions of Portugal and Brazil. After a brief stay with FC Arouca, he ventured from Europe to South America for a fruitful stint with Sport Recife that yielded four goals in 24 league matches.
Born in San Jose, Costa Rica, Wallace moved to the United States with his family when he was nine years old. He grew up in Rockville, Maryland, and enjoyed a standout collegiate career at the University of Maryland, where he played alongside current Sporting KC defender Graham Zusi. He helped lead the Terrapins to the 2008 NCAA national championship—a match they won 10 years ago today—and started all 46 matches he played across two seasons from 2007-2008, notching 10 goals and four assists.
On the international stage, Wallace marked his Costa Rica debut with the lone goal in a 1-0 friendly win over the U.S. on Sept. 2, 2011. He went on to join Los Ticos for the 2013 Concacaf Gold Cup, Copa Centroamericana tournaments in 2013 and 2014, and three qualifying matches ahead of the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
Wallace appeared at his second Gold Cup in 2017, scoring in a 3-0 win over French Guyana, before helping Costa Rica secure a spot in the 2018 FIFA World Cup with a second-place finish in Concacaf’s Hexagonal. He made his World Cup debut as a second-half substitute in a 2-2 group-stage draw with Switzerland on June 27.
Transaction: Sporting Kansas City (MLS) signs defender Rodney Wallace as a free agent on a one-year contract for the 2019 season.
Born: 6/17/1988 (30 years old)
Weight: 165 lbs.
Hometown: Rockville, Maryland
Birthplace: San Jose, Costa Rica
Citizenship: USA, Costa Rica
Previous clubs: D.C. United (2009-10), Portland Timbers (2011-15), FC Arouca (2016), Sport Recife (2016), New York City FC (2017-18)