As 2019 drew to a close and the MLS offseason hit full stride, Sporting Kansas City Manager and Sporting Director Peter Vermes said the club intended to acquire new players on all lines of the field.
Less than a week into Sporting’s 2020 preseason, presented by Children’s Mercy, Sporting has gone and done just that.
After acquiring goalkeeper Richard Sanchez, defenders Roberto Puncec and Amadou Dia, and forwards Khiry Shelton and Alan Pulido, Sporting added to its midfield corps with the acquisition of Gadi Kinda on Thursday afternoon.
Kinda (pronounced GAH-dee KINN-dah) may be a new name to some in Kansas City, but the versatile midfielder has made waves abroad as one of the best players in the Israeli Premier League. With that in mind, here are eight things to know about the newcomer.
1. Born in Ethiopia and Raised in Israel
Born in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa, Kinda moved to Israel with his Jewish family when he was three years old. He grew up in the port city of Ashdod and entered the FC Ashdod Academy as a youngster.
2. Ashdod’s Wunderkind
Kinda spent the first seven and a half seasons of his professional career at FC Ashdod, landing his Israeli Premier League debut in September 2011 as a 17-year-old. He became a regular starter by 2013 and was an integral contributor at the club until his move to Beitar Jerusalem in February 2019.
3. The Best at Beitar
Over the last 12 months, Kinda has started in 30 of 31 appearances for Beitar Jerusalem in all competitions and established himself as a star in the Israeli Premier League. Before his move to Sporting, the playmaker ranked fourth in the league with a team-best seven goals while also leading the side with four assists in the 2019-20 season.
4. Turn It Around
Kinda’s presence in the Israeli capital paid dividends for Beitar Jerusalem. After finishing 11th in the 2018-19 regular season table, the team currently occupies third place in the Premier League and won the 2019-20 Toto Cup Al last September with a 2-0 win over reigning champions Maccabi Tel Aviv.
5. Well-Rounded Weapon
Kinda is a central midfielder who can also play more attack-minded on the wings. As Vermes describes, “He is a No. 8 in the central midfield who plays both ways, for sure. He’s got a really good engine. His defensive responsibilities are very well engrained in him, and he has some good attacking tendencies to get into the box. I expect him to fit in well to the way that we play, and we look forward to him joining the team.”
6. Third Ethiopian-Born in MLS
Kinda becomes just the third Ethiopian-born player in MLS history. The first was Dahir Mohammed, who had sport spells with the New England Revolution (1998) and New York Red Bulls (2000). The second was forward Fuad Ibrahim, who plied his trade for FC Dallas (2007-2008) and Toronto FC (2008-2010) before taking his career elsewhere.
7. First Israeli for Sporting
In addition to being the club’s first Ethiopian-born player, Kinda is also the first Israeli to join Sporting. He holds dual citizenship in Ethiopia and Israel.
8. Youth International
On the international stage, Kinda has represented Israel at the U-18, U-19 and U-21 levels. He featured in qualifying matches for the 2013 UEFA European Under-19 Championship as well as the 2015 and 2017 editions of the UEFA Under-21 Championship.
9. Senior Team Selection
Kinda has yet to earn his first cap for the Israeli Men’s National Team but was selected to the senior squad for UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying last fall. A strong debut campaign in MLS would likely do wonders in Kinda’s bid to secure a senior international debut.
10. Off to Arizona
Kinda will now join Sporting in Arizona for the club’s 2020 preseason, presented by Children’s Mercy. And as Vermes points out, the timing of his arrival is a major plus. “Sometimes it can be difficult if you add a guy too late and he misses all that time in the preseason—the fitness and the acclimation to the model of play, but more importantly the bonding with teammates,” Vermes said. “The fact that (Kinda) can join us now is a real positive.”