Sporting Kansas City received a heavy injection of youth today as the club signed three talented Academy products in Grayson Barber, Ozzie Cisneros and Brooks Thompson. Sporting’s current roster now features 10 players who developed at the Academy level before making the jump to Major League Soccer.
In the space below, we cast the spotlight on 20-year-old midfielder Grayson Barber, who took an unconventional route toward his dream of reaching the Sporting Kansas City first team.
1. A Unique Path
Born and raised in central South Carolina, Barber moved to Kansas City in 2015 to join the Sporting KC Academy. He spent three seasons at Sporting before committing to Clemson University in early 2018 as one of the most coveted recruits in the country. Barber enjoyed a prolific three-year college career at Clemson that culminated with his junior campaign last fall.
2. Academy Standout
Barber logged nearly 60 appearances for Sporting in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy from 2015-2017, competing at the U-16 and U-18s levels as an attacking midfielder and scoring over 20 goals. At the end of 2017, he was named to the United Soccer Coaches Youth Boys All-America Team.
3. A Youth International
Barber featured for the United States at the youth international level, taking his first step by training with the U-17s in 2016. The following spring, he and current Sporting defender Jaylin Lindsey joined the U.S. U-17 Residency Program in Bradenton, Florida.
4. Bridging the Gap
Between his time at Sporting and Clemson, Barber played one season of high school soccer in the spring of 2018 at Cardinal Newman in Columbia, South Carolina. In 21 games, Barber exploded for 38 goals and 10 assists as his school went 23-4 and captured a conference championship.
5. Terrific Tiger
In three seasons at Clemson, Barber amassed 13 goals and 18 assists in 49 appearances. He led the Tigers to the 2019 NCAA Tournament quarterfinals as well as the 2020 ACC Championship title.
6. Sophomore Breakout
Born and raised in central South Carolina, Barber recorded a goal and two assists during his freshman campaign at Clemson before breaking out as a sophomore in 2019. He tallied 10 goals and nine assists en route to All-ACC Second Team honors as the Tigers posted an 18-2-2 record and finished one game short of the Men’s College Cup.
7. Leading Assist Man
The 2020 NCAA Division I college soccer season was shortened due to the pandemic, but Barber made the most of his junior campaign by leading the nation with seven assists in addition to scoring twice.
8. Record Setter
Last fall, Barber and Clemson were crowned winners of the ACC Championship with wins over Virginia Tech, Virginia and Wake Forest. He set a tournament record with four assists across the three matches.
9. Finishing on Top
Although the NCAA did not host its annual postseason championship, Barber and Clemson finished on top as the Tigers were tabbed No. 1 in the final United Soccer Coaches poll of the year.