Jaylin Lindsey reflects on debut season, eyes Defender of the Year

Just five months ago, Jaylin Lindsey lived one of his dreams. But he's got many more to achieve.

Lindsey made his MLS debut with Sporting Kansas City in June, entering as a substitute in a 4-1 win against Minnesota United. The 18-year-old then started six of the next seven games for his hometown club.  

"It was amazing," Lindsey told MLSsoccer.com last week. "It was something I worked really hard for from preseason until my debut and it was awesome. I've always dreamed of playing in front of the fans, it was just something that's unforgettable, you know? You usually don't get that experience at that type of age."

By the time the 18-year-old walked up to the fourth official on June 3, he knew he belonged. 

"I said to myself that I was ready in preseason," Lindsey said. "I started with the guys a little bit, got to know them a little more, I feel like I did really well. I held my own through all the game I played and did my best. At that point, I felt that I was ready for this level to play in MLS."

Lindsey had to wait a few months before getting that opportunity, but when Seth Sinovic went down with injury, on came Lindsey. 

He assured himself he wouldn't shrink in the moment.

"I was pretty confident because debuts can be a little nerve-wracking, that was my mentality heading into the season," Lindsey said. "If I got an opportunity, I'd take the chance."

Lindsey was voted No. 20 in MLSsoccer.com's 22 Under 22 rankings, recognized as one of the brightest young players in the league. It's just the beginning for Lindsey, who is currently with the U-20 US national team at the U-20 Concacaf Championship. They play Suriname on Friday night, hoping to inch closer to qualifying for the U-20 World Cup. After four matches, they are 4-0 with a +30 goal difference.

"For next season I'm going to try, in the national team side of it, make the World Cup," Lindsey said. 

But his aspirations don't stop on the national front. The 18-year-old has goals to achieve, including the biggest individual honor in the league for a defender: winning MLS Defender of the Year. 

"For a club perspective, my goal is to be a regular starter within the team and get a lot of minutes in MLS," Lindsey said. "My next goal is to be one of the nominees for Defender of the Year. It's just my goal and I'm going to work hard for it."

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