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 last four seasons have seen Sporting Kansas City embark on a slow-burning youth movement of sorts, utilizing the club's academy to cultivate promising youngsters into MLS professionals. Of the 27 players on Sporting's current roster, 10 have developed in the Sporting KC Academy. Among the rising stars on the cusp of a bona fide breakout in MLS is right back Jaylin Lindsey, a talented U.S. youth international who enters 2021 with higher expectations than ever before.
Born and raised in North Carolina, Lindsey moved to Kansas City to join the Sporting KC Academy in 2015 and hasn't looked back since. He signed an MLS contract as a Homegrown Player as a 17-year-old in September 2017 before starting nine of 10 appearances in all competitions during a successful 2018 campaign that saw Sporting finish atop the Western Conference standings. After missing most of 2019 through injury, the outside back was available for the duration of 2020 and started 13 of 14 matches last year, including both playoff contests at Children's Mercy Park.
On the international stage, Lindsey has represented at the U-15, U-17 and U-20 levels, notably competing at the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup and playing alongside teammates such as Sergino Dest of FC Barcelona and Josh Sargent of Werder Bremen.
Lindsey finished the 2020 campaign with a career-high 14 matches played, including starts in each of Sporting's last eight MLS fixtures after Graham Zusi was lost to a season-ending injury in early October. Each of his 14 appearances came after the conclusion of the MLS is Back Tournament last summer, an indication that Lindsey truly began to flourish during the latter half of the season. He also gained playoff experience, playing every minute of Sporting's two postseason contests against San Jose and Minnesota.
With Zusi still rehabbing his foot injury, Lindsey stands a great chance of starting at right back in the early stages of 2021 and using that opportunity to become a mainstay. It should be noted that he can also play as a left back, a task he has handled impressively under Manager Peter Vermes in the past.
Lindsey tallied two assists last season, setting up goals in road wins over Minnesota and Real Salt Lake. According to FBref.com, his 0.17 assists per 90 minutes played ranked in the 85th percentile among all MLS full backs in 2020.
He Said It
“His attitude is fantastic. Jaylin is 100% a team guy, he’s incredibly competitive. He also has really good leadership qualities. I see him as one of those leaders amongst the younger guys for the future. He cares about winning, he cares about the team, he’s a very mature kid and so I think he’s done very well up until this point.”
Sporting Manager Peter Vermes in an interview with the Kansas City Star in September 2020.
Did You Know?
Among Lindsey's favorite free-time hobbies is cooking. If he's not whipping something up in his own kitchen alongside roommates Gianluca Busio and Jake Davis, his favorite restaurant is Joe's Kansas City (half slab of ribs and fries, to be exact).