Sporting Kansas City announced today that the club has signed 22-year-old defender Abdul Rwatubyaye.
The center back has signed an MLS contract for the 2019 MLS season with options for 2020, 2021 and 2022. He will be added to the Sporting KC roster pending receipt of his International Transfer Certificate and P-1 visa, occupying an international roster spot.
Rwatubyaye joins Sporting KC after spending the previous three seasons with Rayon Sports FC of the top-flight Rwanda Premier League. In six years as a professional, the defender has won three Rwanda Premier League titles and played 22 matches for the Rwanda Men’s National Team, including appearances in FIFA World Cup and Africa Cup of Nations qualifying.
A native of Kigali, Rwanda, Rwatubyaye spent three years rising the youth ranks of hometown club APR FC before launching his professional career at age 16 with Isonga FC in 2013. A strong showing with the club prompted his return to APR, where he won two consecutive Rwanda Premier League titles as a regular starter along the backline.
Rwatubyaye tallied three goals and an assist in 21 games during the 2014-15 campaign, which culminated in a league championship and a berth in the 2016 CAF Champions League, the premier club competition involving Africa’s best teams. He made an emphatic impact in the tournament’s preliminary round, scoring a hat-trick of headed goals in APR’s 4-1 second-leg victory over Mbabane Swallows to secure a 4-2 aggregate win.
After leading APR to another league title in 2015-16, Rwatubyaye sealed a move to crosstown rival Rayon Sports. In his first season with the team, he scored four goals in 22 matches and lifted his third straight Premier League trophy. Rayon Sports finished 12 points clear at the top of the 2016-17 standings with just 20 goals allowed in 30 fixtures.
The following season, Rwatubyaye and Rayon Sports performed admirably in the 2018 CAF Confederation Cup, Africa’s secondary club competition. The team navigated a two-legged play-in round and finished second in the group stage to reach the tournament’s quarterfinals for the first time in club history.
On the international stage, Rwatubyaye has represented Rwanda at the U-17, U-20, U-23 and senior levels. He earned his first call-up to the u-17 side in 2012, shortly before competing at the 2013 Francophone Games in France. The center back then progressed to the Rwanda U-20s, captaining the team during 2015 African U-20 Championship qualifying.
Rwatubyaye was first selected to Rwanda’s senior national team in November 2015 for a pair of 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Libya. He made his Rwanda debut two weeks later at the 2015 CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup, helping the Wasps reach the tournament final, prior to scoring his first international goal in a 1-1 draw against Cameroon in January 2016. That same month, Rwatubyaye and Rwanda notched upset wins over Gabon and Ivory Coast before falling to eventual champion Congo in the 2016 African Nations Championship.
Rwatubyaye has started each of Rwanda’s four matches during 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying, most recently helping the Wasps earn draws against Guinea and Central African Republic last fall.
Sporting KC now has 26 players under MLS contract for the 2019 campaign. For a full list of the club's offseason roster moves, visit SportingKC.com/tracker.
Transaction: Sporting Kansas City (MLS) signs defender Abdul Rwatubyaye to a one-year contract for the 2019 season with options for 2020, 2021 and 2022.
Born: 10/23/1996 (22 years old)
Weight: 175 lbs.
Hometown: Kigali, Rwanda
Birthplace: Kigali, Rwanda
Previous Club: Rayon Sports FC (Rwanda)