Sporting Kansas City announced Monday that the club has acquired 20-year-old winger Latif Blessing in a transfer from Liberty Professionals FC of the Ghana Premier League.
Blessing has signed an MLS contract through 2019 with an option for 2020 and will occupy an international spot on Sporting Kansas City’s roster pending receipt of his International Transfer Certificate and P1 visa.
“We have scouted Latif and been very impressed with what we’ve seen from him,” Sporting KC Manager Peter Vermes said. “The great thing we love about him is that he is young, but with a lot of upside as evidence by his goal scoring record with his previous club. With every player you acquire, you always feel they have potential, but we also think he has a great attitude, and we think he has the ability to reach his potential with our club.”
Born and raised in Accra, Ghana, Blessing was named the 2016 Ghana Premier League player of the year after leading the top flight with 17 goals in his first season on the senior team. He was also a finalist for the 2016 Ghanaian FA Cup most valuable player award, helping Liberty Professionals reach the semifinals of the knockout competition.
Blessing, a product of the Liberty Professionals youth academy, made his first appearance of 2016 on Feb. 28 and opened his scoring account with a game-winning goal against Inter Allies one week later. He caught fire during the month of April with five goals over a three-game span, including a brace in a 5-1 victory over defending league champions Ashanti Gold.
Between April and July, Blessing guided Liberty Professionals within one win of the club’s first-ever Ghanaian FA Cup Final appearance. He scored in the round of 64 and quarterfinal round before his side fell to Okwawu United on penalty kicks in the semifinals.
Blessing recorded his first hat-trick on July 27, notching three second-half goals in a 4-0 defeat of Sekondi Hasaacas to vault into the top three of the Premier League’s 2016 goal chart. He scored again on the penultimate weekend of the season, providing the lone tally in a 1-0 win over eventual league champion Wa All Stars.
On Sept. 18, Blessing struck his second hat-trick of the year to help Liberty Professionals avoid relegation from the first division on the final matchday of 2016. The standout performance ensured his status as the Ghana Premier League Goal King, an award given to the league’s top scorer.
Blessing received his first call-up to the Ghana Men’s National Team in December as a member of the Black Stars’ 30-man provisional squad for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations, but was not selected to the final roster.
Blessing becomes the second African-born player to join Sporting Kansas City this month. Last Wednesday, the club signed Bissau-Guinean winger Gerso Fernandes as a Designated Player.
Transaction: Sporting Kansas City (MLS) acquires winger Latif Blessing from Liberty Professionals FC (Ghana) as a discovery signing, pending receipt of his International Transfer Certificate and P1 visa.
Latif Blessing (lah-TEEF)
Born: 12/30/1996 (20 years old)
Weight: 140 lbs.
Last Club: Liberty Professionals (Ghana)
Hometown: Accra, Ghana
Birthplace: Accra, Ghana