The 19-year-old Rad, whose twin brother plays for Sporting KC II, started three of Sporting’s four preseason matches in Arizona and impressed Manager Peter Vermes enough to land an MLS contract this week. He becomes the 11th player on Sporting’s current roster to hail from the Sporting KC Academy.
“Kaveh had an incredible preseason, I thought,” Zusi said. “He’s been training with the first team here and there for the past year or two, but this year he got a full preseason with us and he excelled. His soccer instincts are very, very good for his age. He just came in and solidified himself in that backline. I can’t say enough about how well he came in this year and fit in seamlessly. The kid is beyond his years in terms of his calmness and his instincts. He had a great preseason and fully deserves the contract he got.”
With less than two weeks until Sporting opens the 2021 MLS regular season at the New York Red Bulls on April 17, Zusi also provided an update on the continued rehabilitation of a foot injury that has sidelined him for six months. The 34-year-old veteran, who enters 2021 as the longest-tenured active player with one club in MLS, has increased his training intensity and figures to join his teammates for full training in the near term, although he will miss out in the season opener.
“My workloads have increased quite a bit,” Zusi said. “I did about four miles of running the other day and maybe just a little bit less than that the day before. I’m on the field off to the side with my trainer going through a lot of soccer movements and then getting some fitness in after that. We’re trending upwards at a pretty quick pace right now.”
He continued: “The staff has been holding the reins on me a little bit because I’ve been wanting to do more, more, more,” Zusi said. “I’m actually pleasantly surprised by how well I’ve reacted mentally to this whole thing. I really don’t have any hesitancy at all. If anything, it’s the exact opposite—I want to do more.”
After visiting New York, Sporting will return for their highly anticipated Children’s Mercy Park home opener on April 23 against Orlando City SC. Tickets to Sporting’s first four regular season home matches through the end of May are available at SeatGeek.com while supplies last.