Jon Kempin started for the KCW Juniors at the 2010 SUM Cup in Houston.
Wilf Thorne / Houston Dynamo

KC Sign GK Jon Kempin as Home Grown Player

The Kansas City Wizards announced Tuesday that they have signed goalkeeper Jon Kempin as the first Home Grown Player in club history. The 17-year-old product of the Wizards Juniors youth developmental academy signed as a Generation Adidas player, becoming the youngest signing in team history and the first Home Grown Player to receive a professional contract from the club since the initiative’s inception in 2007.

“This is a great day for our organization,” Kansas City Wizards Manager Peter Vermes said. “We had the opportunity to identify a talented player in the area, bring him into the Juniors program and develop him to the point where we could sign him to a professional contract. Jon has incredible talent and now he has the opportunity to continue his development at a professional level and not have the pressure to perform on the field right away.”

Kempin, a Leawood resident, is an active member of the United States Under-18 National Team player pool, having twice been invited to the team’s training camps in 2010, and is considered one of the top young prospects at his position.

“This a dream come true,” Kempin said. “It’s an exciting time for the Wizards organization and I feel blessed to be the team’s first Home Grown Player. I’m also really looking forward to learning under Jimmy Nielsen. He’s had a great season and he’s definitely one of the top keepers in Major League Soccer.”

Kempin worked his way through the top ranks of the youth soccer system in the United States while a member of the Kansas City Wizards Juniors youth system. In addition to being selected to state and regional teams within the Olympic Developmental Program, Kempin was chosen as one of four goalkeepers for the Fall 2008 and Spring 2009 semesters at the U.S. Soccer Under-17 Residency Program under head coach Wilmer Cabrera at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.

“Being a small-market team, we know how important player development is, and the Juniors are a key part of that," Kansas City Wizards President Robb Heineman said. "Jon has performed well coming up through our system, and we are excited to have him join the senior team as our first Home Grown Player.”

While playing against some of the top competition in the country with the U16 and U18 Wizards Juniors teams, he received extensive training under the direction of Wizards Juniors goalkeeper coach Boris Pardo. Kansas City goalkeeper coach John Pascarella also recently evaluated Kempin, as he was one of the first three Kansas City Wizards Juniors players to be invited to practice with the senior team earlier this month.

“I think that he's a promising young goalkeeper,” Pascarella said. “He's quick, he has good hands and he brings a presence that you don't normally see with someone his age. We're looking forward to getting him into a full-time professional environment.”

Kempin attends top-ranked Blue Valley North High School in Overland Park, Kansas where he recorded nine shutouts as a freshman, allowed only two goals, and won a state championship prior to entering the Under-17 Residency Program. He was named Gatorade’s Kansas State Player of the Year in February and was selected to Parade Magazine’s High School All-American Team in June.

Prior to joining the Kansas City Wizards Juniors academy, Kempin played club soccer for the KC Legends, Blue Valley Stars and KCFC Alliance club teams.

Kempin will not count against the 24-player roster and fills one of two roster spots available for Home Grown Players identified and developed by the club. Per team policy, details of the contract will not be disclosed.

The Kansas City Wizards launched the Juniors youth development academy in 2007 to provide a professional-level environment for aspiring players to participate in. Tryouts are held annually for the U13, U15, U16, and U18 teams.

Major League Soccer established the Home Grown Player initiative in 2007 to permit teams to promote youth academy players to professional contracts, bypassing the league’s annual SuperDraft or traditional allocation process. These players must meet Home Grown Player regulations, including participation in the club’s youth system and residence in the team’s Home Grown territory for at least one year.

The Home Grown Player initiative has produced several promising players in Major League Soccer since its launch three years ago. Kempin becomes just the third goalkeeper to be signed as a Home Grown Player, joining Houston’s Tyler Deric and D.C. United’s Bill Hamid.

Transaction: Kansas City Wizards (MLS) sign goalkeeper Jon Kempin to Generation Adidas contract as Home Grown Player.

Jon Kempin
Number: 21
Height: 6’1
Weight: 170
Born: April 8, 1993
Hometown: Leawood, Kansas
Citizenship: USA
Last Club: Kansas City Wizards Juniors