For the second time in three weeks, an addition to the Sporting Kansas City roster is etched with a bit of history.
Jaylin Lindsey, a 17-year-old defender, signed a multi-year contract with Sporting KC. The deal will take effect on Jan. 1 and run through 2021 with a club option for 2022.
In May 2016, Lindsey became the first American player born in the 2000s to make his professional debut. It was a goal years in the making, he said.
This is, too. Lindsey will be a homegrown defender after he joined the Sporting KC Academy from Charlotte in early 2015.
“During his time in our academy, Jaylin has demonstrated incredible progress on the field and a very high level of maturity for a player his age,” Sporting KC coach Peter Vermes said. “He has a good understanding of what it takes to be a professional.”
Lindsey will be formally introduced during a news conference Friday.
It’s the second time this summer that Sporting KC is supplementing its senior roster with a kid not yet old enough to buy a lottery ticket — an in-house validation of the financial investment thrown toward the academy in recent years. In late August, the club signed 15-year-old forward Gianluca Busio to a homegrown contract, the youngest signing in franchise history and the second youngest in Major League Soccer, behind only Freddy Adu. Lindsey will be the third-youngest in team history, also trailing homegrown defender Erik Palmer-Brown, who was 16 when he signed in 2013.
But Lindsey owns another record for himself. When he subbed into a match with the Swope Park Rangers last summer — the “B team” affiliate for Sporting KC — he became the first American soccer player born in 2000 or later to appear in a professional soccer game. He played two matches with the Rangers last season but spent the bulk of his time in the academy.
“I plan to work hard and repay the faith they have shown in me and help this club achieve all of its goals,” Lindsey said in a release announcing the signing.
The natural progression will likely place Lindsey with the Rangers in 2018, one step shy of the senior team. Time will tell how quickly he makes that final move.
For now, he’s eyeing a World Cup. He has spent the last two weeks with the United States Under-17 national team as it trains for the FIFA U-17 World Cup in India next month, and he’s considered a near-lock to make that roster. As the team qualified for the tournament, Lindsey was named to the CONCACAF U-17 Championship Best XI.
Although he played center back earlier in his progression, he has migrated to the right back spot, where he is a staple in the U.S. youth national team system. At 5-8, 155 pounds, he is an athletic player who is considered a prime fit for the Sporting KC system — an outside defender who can push up the field and make an impact in the offensive end.
By signing Lindsey to a first-team contract, Sporting KC guarantees that even if he later pursues a career overseas rather than locally, the club would either receive a transfer fee or retain his MLS rights. But the hope is to keep him in Kansas City for the long haul.
In order to be eligible to ink a homegrown contract, players must have participated in that club’s academy for at least one year. Sporting KC has made a habit of recruiting young players to join its academy, an effort that has intensified with six scouts on stipends added over the past 18 months. The club’s last three homegrown contracts have hailed from Hungary (Daniel Salloi), Greensboro, N.C. (Busio) and Charlotte (Lindsey).