Sporting Kansas City announced on Friday the signing of 16-year-old Homegrown Player Erik Palmer-Brown. The defender becomes the youngest signing in club history and is the only player born in 1997 currently on a team’s roster in Major League Soccer.
“We have put a strong emphasis and many resources into our Academy program and this is another example of the great strides taken in helping our players reach the next level of soccer,” Sporting KC Manager Peter Vermes said. “Jon Parry and his staff have done a tremendous job in the development of Erik Palmer-Brown and we are excited to watch his growth within Sporting Kansas City.”
“I couldn’t be more excited for the opportunity ahead,” Palmer-Brown said. “To play the sport I love professionally and to begin my career in my hometown is a dream come true. I owe a lot to my family, my coaches and my teammates for helping me reach this point.”
Palmer-Brown is considered one of the top youth prospects for his age in the country. A member of the United States Under-17 Men’s National Team, Palmer-Brown is ranked the No. 1 player in the region and No. 9 player nationally for the Class of 2015 by Top Drawer Soccer (the leader in online coverage of college and high school soccer).
The 6’1, 175-pound central defender has steadily progressed in the Sporting Kansas City Academy since joining in June 2009 at age 13. Within three years of development under Director of Coaching Jon Parry, Palmer-Brown was training with Sporting Kansas City’s senior team and appeared in an MLS Reserve League match in June 2012.
He joined the United States Under-15 Boys National Team in September 2012 and was named the Week 6 Player of the Week in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy a month later. He was chosen to the 1996-97 Academy Select Game at the 2012 Winter Showcase, earning Man of the Match honors from U.S. Soccer, and was named a Winter Showcase Standout by Top Drawer Soccer.
In January, Palmer-Brown was invited to attend the prestigious U.S. Soccer Residency Program in Bradenton, Fla. under the direction of U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team head coach Richie Williams. He debuted with the U17’s in a pair of scrimmages in Carson, Calif. against the LA Galaxy and Nike’s The Chance team and has since travelled extensively for international competition.
At the Under-15 level, Palmer-Brown represented the United States at the 2013 Tournament Delle Nazioni in Italy. In June, he was on the U.S. Under-17’s roster for the Caspian Cup in Azerbaijan and most recently, he helped the United States win an international tournament in Japan at the U-17 level.
Palmer-Brown is a three-time State Cup champion (2009-2011) and appeared in 40 U.S. Soccer Development Academy matches – starting in 38 of those games -- over the last two seasons. In addition to his prolific club soccer career, Palmer-Brown played one season of high school soccer as a freshman at Lee’s Summit High School in the fall of 2011. He was named All-Conference First Team and Defensive Player of the Year, as well as receiving honorable mention recognition on the MSHSAA Western All-Region and Class 3 All-Kansas City teams.
Palmer-Brown becomes the third Homegrown Player on Sporting Kansas City’s roster, along with Jon Kempin (2010) and Kevin Ellis (2011). He will occupy the club’s available off-budget roster spot and will remain eligible to play in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy for the Sporting KC Academy under-18 team.
Major League Soccer established the Homegrown Player initiative in 2007 to permit teams to promote youth academy players to professional contracts. These players must meet Homegrown Player criteria, including participation in the club’s youth system and residence in the team’s Homegrown territory.
While playing professionally, Palmer-Brown will complete his high school education at Archbishop O'Hara High School in Kansas City, Mo.
Transaction: Sporting Kansas City (MLS) signs defender Erik Palmer-Brown as Homegrown Player.
Hometown: Lee’s Summit, Mo.
Birthplace: Napoleon, Ohio