Sporting Kansas City II announced today that the club has signed 21-year-old defender Esai Easley, a college standout from Grand Canyon University who was drafted by Sporting Kansas City with the 22nd overall pick in the 2022 MLS SuperDraft on Jan. 11.
Easley, who spent the early stages of preseason training with Sporting's first team earlier this winter, will join Sporting KC II for its first season in MLS NEXT Pro, a new professional league that will kick off on the final weekend of March. The club now has 18 players under professional contract heading into the MLS NEXT Pro campaign.
Sporting KC II Roster as of March 11, 2022
- Goalkeepers (1): Ethan Bandre
- Defenders (6): Joseph Addo Tetteh, Aljaz Dzankic, Esai Easley, Spencer Glass, Coby Jones, Cole McLagan
- Midfielders (4): Collin Fernandez, Curtez Kellman, Jahon Rad, Cade Thomson
- Forwards (7): Paul Atta Agyei, Bakary Bagayoko, Josh Coan, Tijani Fatah, Rauf Salifu, Julian Vazquez, Dembakwi Yomba
Born and raised in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, Easley started 47 of 53 appearances during a four-year college career at Grand Canyon in Phoenix, adding two goals and four assists. Capable of playing as a center back or a right back, he led the Antelopes to three NCAA Tournament appearances and two titles in the Western Athletic Conference—the 2018 conference tournament championship and the 2021 regular season title.
Easley captained Grand Canyon as a senior and earned multiple accolades as one of the country’s best college defenders, including United Soccer Coaches All-Far West Region first team, All-WAC first team and WAC Defensive Player of the Year honors. While at Grand Canyon, he played for former MLS coach Schellas Hyndman and former MLS player Leonard Griffin.
Easley made an immediate impact as a freshman, posting a 6-0-1 record in seven starts with just three goals conceded and helping the Antelopes win the WAC Tournament and reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time ever at the Division I level. He became a regular starter as a sophomore and propelled Grand Canyon back to the NCAA Tournament as a junior in the spring of 2021, with the Antelopes finishing the abbreviated season with an 8-2 record. Easley’s senior campaign was highlighted by a WAC regular season title as Grand Canyon went 15-4-1 and racked up six shutouts with the native Hawaiian anchoring the backline.
As a youth, Easley competed with academies at Seattle Sounders FC and De Anza Force in California before representing the Portland Timbers U-23s in 2021, where he was named to the USL League Two Western Conference Team of the Year.
Esai Easley (EE-sigh EEZ-lee)
Born: 5/9/2000 (21 years old)
Weight: 175 lbs.
College: Grand Canyon University
Hometown: Kalua-Kona, Hawaii
Birthplace: Kalua-Kona, Hawaii