Sporting KC’s second Homegrown Player in club history, defender Kevin Ellis enjoyed a career season in 2015 with five goals in 33 appearances across all competitions. His four regular season goals ranked first among MLS defenders and were the most by a defender in a single season during the Opta era (2011-present). He followed up with 17 more appearances in 2016, recording two goals and one assist in his fifth season with the club. Ellis had a breakout campaign in 2014 as he made 21 appearances and 17 starts in MLS, including his playoff debut.
Ellis developed in the Sporting KC Academy while attending Oak Park High School before playing collegiately at Barton County Community College in 2009-10. He scored his first competitive goal for the club in March 2014, sparking a 1-0 win over Cruz Azul (Mexico) in the 2013-14 CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal first leg at Sporting Park.
2017: MLS regular season: Started five matches (450 minutes played). Made his 2017 debut at Minnesota United FC on May 7. Open Cup: Played two minutes as a second-half substitute in a 4-0 fourth-round win over Minnesota United FC on June 14. Played 90 minutes and assisted on a header by Ike Opara against Houston Dynamo on June 28. Played 15 minutes as an extra-time substitute against FC Dallas on July 11. MLS Cup Playoffs: Did not feature.
2016: Started 14 of 18 appearances in all competitions, recording two goals and one assist (1313 minutes played). MLS regular season: Started 10 of 14 appearances (953 minutes played), recording one goal and one assist while contributing to six shutouts. Became the first Sporting KC Homegrown Player to reach 50 regular season appearances with his 2016 debut on April 2. Made his 50th regular season start in a 2-1 victory at the San Jose Earthquakes on Sept. 24, scoring the game-winning goal in the 81st minute. Assisted Dom Dwyer's goal in a 3-1 defeat at the New England Revolution on Oct. 1. Open Cup: Started one match (90 minutes played). Started and played 90 minutes in a 3-1 fifth round loss at the Houston Dynamo on June 29. CONCACAF Champions League: Started and played 90 minutes in a 2-2 draw at Central FC on Aug. 16, scoring the game-tying goal in the 70th minute. Started and played 90 minutes in a 3-0 loss at Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Aug. 23. MLS Cup Playoffs: Started and played 90 minutes in a 1-0 knockout round loss at Seattle Sounders FC on Oct. 27.
2015: MLS regular season: Started 26 of 27 appearances, recorded four goals and one assist, and contributed to eight clean sheets (2335 minutes played). Led all players with 12 clearances in a 0-0 shutout at Seattle on May 23. Scored the first goal of his MLS career and added an assist in a 4-0 win over FC Dallas on May 29, earning MLS Team of the Week honors (Week 13). Scored the first game-winning goal of his MLS career in a 1-0 win at Vancouver on July 12. Earned MLS Team of the Week honors in Week 23 after a 3-1 win at Toronto FC on Aug. 8. Scored the team's opening goal in a 4-3 win over Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Aug. 15 as Sporting KC came from two goals behind after the 80th minute to complete one of the best comebacks in MLS history. Scored the team's opening goal in a 2-1 win over LA Galaxy on Oct. 26 as Sporting KC beat LA Galaxy to clinch a playoff spot on the final day of the regular season. MLS Cup Playoffs: Started and played 120 minutes in Sporting KC's 7-6 penalty kick shootout loss at Portland after a 2-2 draw through regulation. Scored an 87th-minute equalizer to force extra tme, the latest equalizer in the club's postseason history. Open Cup: Earned five starts and played the entirety of every match. Started and played 90 minutes in a 1-0 fourth round win over Saint Louis FC on June 16. Started and played 90 minutes in a 6-2 fifth round win over FC Dallas on July 1. Started and played 90 minutes in a 3-1 quarterfinal win over the Houston Dynamo on July 21. Started and played 90 minutes in a 3-1 semifinal win over Real Salt Lake on Aug. 12. Started and played 120 minutes in a championship win over the Philadelphia Union on Sept. 30 as Sporting KC prevailed 7-6 in penalty kicks after a 1-1 draw in regulation. He converted his penalty kick in the shootout.
2014: MLS regular season: Played in 20 matches, 16 of them starts, and contributed to five shutouts with three assists. Was named to MLSsoccer.com's MLS Team of the Week on June 9 and June 30 (Weeks 14 and 16) after playing 90 minutes in Sporting KC's shutout wins over the Houston Dynamo and Portland Timbers, respectively. Played 90 minutes in three of team's first four MLS matches before going on loan to USL PRO affiliate OKC Energy FC on April 21. Was recalled to Sporting KC on May 16 and made five straight starts at centerback from May 23 to June 27. Earned his first career assist on Lawrence Olum's goal in a 1-0 win over the Portland Timbers on June 27. Assisted Paulo Nagamura's goal in a 3-2 loss to New England on Sept. 26. Assisted Graham Zusi's game-winning goal in a 2-0 win against Chicago on Oct. 10. MLS Playoffs: Played 90 minutes in a 2-1 loss at New York in the Eastern Conference Knockout Round (Oct. 30). CCL: Played 90 minutes in both legs of the 2013-14 CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals vs. Cruz Azul. He scored his first career goal for the club in the first leg on March 12, a 1-0 victory. Started two matches (180 minutes) in the 2014-15 group stage. Open Cup: Played 90 minutes in a 2-0 fourth round win over Minnesota United FC on June 18. Played 90 minutes in a 3-1 fifth round loss to Portland on June 24. Friendly: Played 45 minutes in a 4-1 Champions Shield defeat to Manchester City on July 23 at Sporting Park. USL PRO: Made five appearances (446 minutes) for OKC Energy FC.
2013: MLS: Made first MLS appearance as a sub in a 3-2 win over the Columbus Crew on June 29. Started first MLS match in 1-1 home draw vs. the Vancouver Whitecaps on June 3. Open Cup: Made his first career start on June 12 in the fourth round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup vs Orlando City SC.
2012: Ellis made ten appearances for Sporting Kansas City in the 2012 MLS Reserve League with seven starts. Additionally, Ellis played the full 90 minutes in both international friendly matches during the 2012 season, starting at left back against Montpellier Herault SC on July 24 and again eight days later against Stoke City FC on August 1. Ellis helped Sporting Kansas City salvage a 1-1 draw in second half stoppage time against the English Premier League side. In the match, Ellis earned the first shot on goal when he was on the receiving end of a corner kick, heading it into the arms of Stoke City FC goalkeeper Asmir Begovic.
2011: Signed as second Home Grown Player in club history in February. Made debut for Sporting Kansas City during the US Open Cup, and appeared for the second time during a friendly versus Newcastle United on July 20. Ellis scored his first goal since signing with Sporting Kansas City in the beginning of 2011, in a 2-2 draw against international opponent CD Guadalajara on October 12.
COLLEGE: Ellis attended Barton County Community College, where he led the school to back-to-back Region VI championships and NJCAA National Tournament appearances in 2009 and 2010. As a freshman, Ellis recorded 23 goals and eight assists en route to earning NJCAA Second Team All-American honors. In 2010, Ellis transitioned to defense while still contributing 11 goals and four assists and helping Barton County earn third place at the NJCAA National Tournament, the best finish in school history. He was named the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference Defensive Player of the Year, and added All-Region VI First Team, NJCAA All-Tournament Team and NJCAA First Team All-American honors. His 34 goals and 80 points in the two-year career are an all-time school record.
YOUTH: Ellis is a product of the Sporting Kansas City Juniors academy, highlighted by his participation with the Under-17 team in the inaugural SUM Cup in 2007 and in the Kansas State Cup and Region II Regionals with the Under-19 team in 2010. At the 2007 SUM U-17 Cup in Colorado, Ellis scored two goals in back-to-back minutes of the second half of the group finale against FC Dallas to lead the team to a 3-2 comeback victory. Ellis also starred at Oak Park High School
PERSONAL: Lists his favorite athlete as Chris Paul and his favorite soccer team as AC Milan. Enjoys listening to old-school R&B. To prepare for matches, Ellis banters back and forth with his twin brother. Favorite soccer memory is making his senior Sporting Kansas City debut in front of his mother, Christine. Lists worst soccer memory as losing against Dom Dwyer in the NJCAA national tournament. Favorite expression is ‘swag backfire’. Nickname is Dani Alves. Favorite celebrity encounter was speaking to Newcastle United centerback Fabricio Coloccini at length after Sporting Kansas City’s 0-0 draw with the NUFC on July 16, 2011.