As momentum builds toward Major League Soccer’s 26th season in 2021, Sporting Kansas City players and coaches will look to lay the foundations for another successful campaign when preseason training unfolds this month in Arizona.
With newcomers joining familiar faces for the 2021 preseason presented by Children’s Mercy, SportingKC.com has launched the “Sporting Preseason Spotlight” web series to acquaint supporters with the goalkeepers, defenders, midfielders and forwards who will help Sporting Kansas City compete for silverware in 2021. To read up on every player and visit the series archive as it expands, head to SportingKC.com/Spotlight.
The 2020 campaign was a reunion of sorts for left back Amadou Dia, who returned to Kansas City following his two-year stint at Children’s Mercy Park from 2015-2016. On the heels of three solid seasons in the USL Championship with Phoenix Rising FC, Dia enjoyed an impressive resurgence in Sporting blue last fall.
The 2015 MLS SuperDraft selection and Clemson University product made a quick impression for Sporting, logging 27 appearances as a rookie. After an up-and-down 2016, he took the reins as one of the USL Championship’s best outside backs during a three-year stretch in which Phoenix won a regular season title and dominated the league’s Western Conference.
Acquired by Sporting in early 2020, Dia wasn’t called upon until the MLS is Back Tournament last July in Walt Disney World. His consistency helped him land a starting spot from mid-September onward as Sporting ended the regular season with a 6-1-1 record. Dia also started both matches in the Audi 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs, finishing the year with starts in 11 of 15 appearances as well as three shutout contributions.
Dia was Sporting’s first-choice left back during the stretch run of 2020. The 27-year-old will aim to hold that spot down in the months to come, blending quickness and tenacity with his penchant to overlap down the flank and get involved in the attacking third.
Off the field, Dia will continue to play a leading locker room role as Sporting pushes for positive social change in partnership with Black Players for Change and the rest of MLS.
According to FBref.com, Dia’s 4.68 clearances per 90 minutes in 2020 ranked in the 97th percentile among MLS outside backs.
He Said It
“It’s just a different environment over here. First of all, the facilities are top class. Absolutely unbelievable. The attitude here is, ‘Do anything you can to win.’ The team has an amazing chemistry with everybody from the coaching staff down to the last player on the bench. Everybody is on the same page, and that is to win. And then the fans at the stadium are absolutely amazing as well. When you come to play in Kansas City, you’re like, ‘This is the real deal.’ You can see it and feel it. It’s amazing and hard to describe, but you can feel it.”
Dia on what it means to play for Sporting in an interview from Sept. 22, 2020.
Did You Know?
Dia was close friends with Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Sammy Watkins during their time together at Clemson University.
On Social Media
As a member of Black Players for Change, Dia is one of Sporting’s leading voices in the push for social equality. If you haven’t already, give him a follow on Instagram at @amadou_it11 and on Twitter at @Amadou_iT11.