Fifteen-year-old forward Tyler Freeman officially put ink to paper on Tuesday, becoming the 10th Homegrown Player in Sporting Kansas City history and the club’s second-youngest player ever.
Freeman, who was born in Overland Park and raised in Shawnee, took a major step this week in his pursuit of a lifelong dream to represent Sporting KC at the MLS level. He joined the Sporting KC Academy in 2014 at age 11, began representing the United States as a youth international in 2016, and now looks to break through as a full-time professional heading into the 2019 season.
But Freeman’s journey with Sporting KC began back in 2009, when he attended his first Kansas City Wizards game at CommunityAmerica Ballpark as a six-year-old. Freeman reflected on his journey Wednesday night on The Sporting KC Show, joining hosts Nate Bukaty and Carter Augustine on Sports Radio 810 WHB.
“It was always a goal of mine to play for the first team one day,” Freeman said. “Everyone’s goal is to become a professional soccer player, but I always wanted to become one for Sporting KC. To have that opportunity now means everything.”
Freeman was a Walk of Champions guest when he took the field pre-game with former Wizards forward Josh Wolff in 2009, attended the inaugural match at Children’s Mercy Park in 2011 and was a ball boy for the club periodically from 2015-2017. Now, he will make the transition from fan to first team.
“He’s an attacking player, and he has a certain edge to him that is more on the line of a guy who can score goals, deliver the final pass and eliminate opponents off the dribble,” Sporting KC Manager Peter Vermes said of Freeman later in the episode. “He has a lot of the attributes that we often try to buy. They’re the harder players to find locally, nationally and internationally, so being able to develop someone like him will give us a real advantage going forward.”
In addition to sharing his thoughts on Freeman, Vermes also previewed Saturday’s high-profile home game with the LA Galaxy at Children’s Mercy Park. Sporting KC can clinch a club-record eighth straight playoff berth with a win or a draw this weekend. Vermes’ side occupies second place in the Western Conference, two points behind leaders FC Dallas, heading into a marquee matchup with Zlatan Ibrahimovic and an upstart Galaxy team that owns two straight 3-0 wins.
“The LA Galaxy are the LA Galaxy: they have been an incredibly successful club in this league, and I think it’s funny that sometimes people talk about their demise, because we don’t buy that,” Vermes said. “They have an excellent roster, and I think they are a very good team. Right now, their players realize that they can make a run and get into the playoffs, so they’re going to work and do everything that they can to gain three points.
“When you look at Zlatan Ibrahimovic, he’s just a dominant force on the field from so many points of view. He has been dominating in our league in the way that he has scored and helped them get into this position to be in playoff contention after they started poorly. We’re going to have to be very good against them.”
The Galaxy currently sit two points below the playoff line in seventh place, but could jump into the sixth and final playoff spot with a victory in Kansas City—a place where they haven’t won since 2007.
Listen to the full podcast below.