Sporting Kansas City announced on Tuesday the signing of 18-year-old center back Kayden Pierre a Homegrown Player. Born and raised in Rochester Hills, Michigan, Pierre has become the 18th Homegrown Player to emerge from the Sporting Kansas City Academy. Sporting's roster now has 12 first team players developed in the club's academy, most in Major League Soccer. In the newest edition of Just Because presented by Hallmark, we get to know Pierre a bit better off the field.
As a native of Michigan, what is your favorite part about living in Kansas City?
I would have to say the barbecue, that’s something I really enjoy. I didn’t used to eat a lot of barbecue when I was in Michigan, but down here I eat it a lot. The one close to where I live in Overland Park, Q39, that’s the one I go to most of the time. I always get some burnt ends; those are my favorite.
On the flipside, what do you miss the most about Michigan?
I’d have to say my family and friends. Growing up there, leaving when I was 14 and coming to a whole new environment, leaving them all behind, it was tough.
What’s your living situation in Kansas City? Do you live with a host family?
Right now I live with my mom and my little brother who’s six. When I moved here, I first started with my mom for six months and then I had a host family for two years, then a different host family for one year, and now I’m back with my mom – so it all went full circle.
Other than soccer, which sport would you want to go pro in?
Basketball, I used to love basketball growing up.
Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
My parents, and I’d also want to say my grandpa on my mom’s side, those are the people that pushed me most. I used to tell them when I was five years old, “one day I’m going to be a pro.” It’s funny because one day I asked them, when I’m a professional soccer player, what car they wanted – this is back when I was five years old! They all wrote it down and I guess they still have it, although hopefully not! They’re the ones that always made me most comfortable to just be myself and play my game.
What athlete did you look up to growing up?
Probably Wayne Rooney. He’s the type of guy that anyone would want on their team, he does anything for the team. If you need him to go score, he’ll go score. If you need him to track back 50 yards to go win the ball, he’ll go do it, he doesn’t care, he just wants to win. As an outside back, I’d say I look up to Marcelo and most recently Alphonso Davies – what he’s doing at such a young age is just so cool, it’s amazing.
Which professional soccer player would you compare yourself to?
There’s not exactly one player I replicate my game after, I would say it’s a bit of a mixture between Alphonso Davies and Aaron Wan-Bissaka, the right back at Manchester United.
What accomplishment are you most proud of?
When I was in middle school, I finished 13th in the nation in a big chess tournament. I’m really proud of that.
Who are your closest friends at the club and what do you guys do when you hang out?
I would say (Sporting KC II midfielder) Jake Davis, (Academy players) Edward Mendy, Zion Long and Danny Gutierrez – so mostly academy guys. Usually, our hangout spot used to be my old host family’s house, we used to always go there and eat, and they would destroy my room – thankfully that doesn’t happen anymore! We also used to eat at Raising Cane’s a lot and hang out there. Or we’d go to Overland Park and play some soccer.
Do you have any hobbies or talents outside of soccer?
Chess and board games in general – I’m a super competitive person, I love playing board games. Other than that, it’s all soccer.
Who is your favorite musical artist or what is your favorite type of music to listen to?
I’d say rap and R&B are my two favorites. My favorite artist I’d say is old school Kanye West.
If you had to listen to one song for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Three Little Birds by Bob Marley. In the car, my mom only plays two people, she plays Michael Jackson and she plays Bob Marley so I love both of them as well!
What is your favorite movie?
I’m going to say a movie I watched for the first time this year, The Departed. All the twists and turns in the movie just had me glued to the screen.
Are you hooked on any TV shows?
Not at the moment, I’ve been focusing on school since the school year is almost over! I’ve got to make sure everything’s all good. The last thing I binged was Peaky Blinders.
What other professional sports teams do you support?
I support all the teams from Michigan, so the Detroit Lions, Tigers, Pistons and the Red Wings. I also support Manchester United, that was my team growing up.
Which Sporting player do you enjoy watching the most?
It would have to be Johnny Russell. Anytime he gets the ball, you just feel like something’s going to happen, especially when he’s near the goal. You feel like “oh man, he’s scoring on his magical left foot of his.” You can just feel it coming.
Where is the coolest place you have played outside of Kansas City?
It was my second game in the USL, I’d say Louisville. It was just a good atmosphere, a nice stadium and playing away against a good USL team, it was just a good experience. Even though we lost the game, it was surreal playing there.
What is your favorite place to travel to for a vacation?
Jamaica. I haven’t been there in a while, but I went there as a kid and I really want to go back. I think I was five or six years old but that’s one place I want to go back with my family. We went to Kingston, which is the capital.
If you could have dinner with anyone in the world, who would it be and why?
It would probably have to be Lionel Messi. For me, he’s the best soccer player of all time. I’d want to pick his brains a little bit!
Which teammate of yours is the best to follow on social media and why?
(SKC II midfielder) Jahon Rad, he’s always messing with me on social media – a little bit too much!
If you could be any animal in the world, what would it be and why?
I’d want to be a cheetah. I like going fast and that’s the fastest mammal on earth so definitely a cheetah.
Do you have any gameday rituals or superstitions?
Honestly, not really. I don’t know if this is a superstition, but I always want to carry a water bottle with me the whole day and especially on the bus. On the bus, I make sure I finish a bottle of water – even if it’s just a five-minute drive.
What’s your biggest soccer dream? What’s the biggest thing you want to achieve in your career?
Playing in a World Cup for the U.S. Men’s National Team. Especially if it happens in 2026, that would be a dream just playing in front of the home fans at a World Cup – you can’t ask for more than that!
What potential career would you be interested in pursuing after your playing career ends?
Something still related to soccer, I haven’t figured that part out yet. I like everything in soccer, whether that’s Peter (Vermes) being a coach, or even an assistant, or Brian Bliss, the person that signs players or even a scout or agent – I haven’t figured out exactly what I want but it’ll be something related to soccer.