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 youngest player on Sporting Kansas City’s roster just may have the biggest upside. Versatile attacker Ozzie Cisneros put pen to paper on an MLS contract in January, marking the start of what coaches, teammates and fans alike will be the start of a special professional journey for the talented U.S. international.
As a promising teenager, Cisneros is just getting started. The Nebraska native moved to Kansas City as a 12-year-old in 2016 and has risen the Academy ranks since then, representing Sporting at the U-13 through U-19 levels. He has also donned U.S. colors for the U-15 Boys’ National Team, notably competing at the Torneo delle Nazioni and Concacaf U-15 Championship in 2019. Capable of playing multiple positions in midfield and attack, the diminutive Cisneros boasts technical quality and—like any other player developed in the Sporting KC Academy—strong familiarity with Manager Peter Vermes’ 4-3-3 system.
Following a six-month pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Cisneros and the Sporting KC Academy returned to competitive action last September in MLS Next, a newly launched youth platform featuring elite academy clubs from across the country. Cisneros struck twice during the abbreviated fall season—once for the U-17s and once for the U-19s.
As with any teenage professional, Cisneros will experience a learning curve as he transitions from competing with U-17 and U-19 players at the academy level to grown men in MLS. When he gets his minutes, however—either with the first team or with Sporting KC II in the USL Championship—expect Cisneros to showcase his skillful qualities in multiple areas on the pitch.
Two. That’s the number of goals Cisneros scored for the U.S. U-15 national team in a 2-0 quarterfinal win over Costa Rica at the 2019 Concacaf U-15 Championship in Bradenton, Florida. That performance put his name in the stratosphere among the many bright soccer talents emerging from the U.S. youth contingent.
He Said It
“Ozzie is rated very highly in his national age group. He can do a lot of different stuff in the midfield, he can play-make and he's scrappy enough to fight for it as well."
Sporting Manager Peter Vermes when Cisneros signed for Sporting in January.
Did You Know?
Cisneros is the youngest of five children to parents Santiago and Maria, who immigrated from Mexico and live in Omaha, Nebraska. Cisneros, who has lived with a host family in Kansas City since he was 13, was one of the featured players in “The Academy,” a five-part documentary from Audi and Bleacher Report last fall that cast the spotlight on Sporting’s youth development system.