Tyler Freeman Signs Contract
Pro Pathway Working: MLS’ Sporting KC Consistently Signs Young Players
Sporting Kansas City (MLS) signs forward Tyler Freeman as a Homegrown Player.
“Very happy with what the Academy is doing, the pro pathway is working,” said Sporting KC Manager Peter Vermes.
Youth Soccer News: Sporting Kansas City announced Tuesday that the club has signed 15-year-old forward Tyler Freeman as a Homegrown Player. Freeman, who has inked an MLS contract through 2022 with an option for 2023, will be added to the Sporting KC roster ahead of the 2019 season.
A native of Shawnee, Kansas, Freeman becomes the second-youngest signing in club history and the ninth-youngest MLS player ever at 15 years and 266 days.
“All I ever wanted to be is a professional soccer player — for my hometown club Sporting KC,” said Freeman.
“This is an exciting day for Tyler Freeman, his family and for Sporting Kansas City,” said Vermes.
Sporting Kansas City commits enormous resources to their Academy and focuses on the individual development of players, with the same style of play consistent through the Academy, the USL’s Swope Park Rangers, and the first team; Sporting Kansas City.
“Our decision to sign Tyler demonstrates the investment we have made in our professional pathway, and it’s great to see a young attacking player take a big step forward at our club. We look forward to helping him reach his potential, and we believe that he has an incredible environment, culture and support system around him that will propel his future in the direction of being a successful player at Sporting KC.”
“Just because you sign a contract does not mean you are a pro, it takes time,” said Vermes.
“But I think he has the commitment and the work ethic to find a way to make it to the first team, which I think is the dream of all the players at the Academy.”
Real Homegrown Talent: Freeman entered the Sporting KC Academy in 2014 at age 11 and has represented his hometown club at the U12 through U19 levels.
Sporting Kansas City Academy Director Jon Parry said, “I believe Tyler Freeman has the potential to be one of the best kids to ever come out of our Academy. I think we have one of the best Academy staffs in the country and Tyler has been able to benefit from that over the last three years.”
“Freeman is a tremendous 1v1 player, he scores goals, makes the final pass and is an exciting player to watch,” said Parry.
Freeman, who told reporters that becoming a professional soccer player for Sporting KC is what he has always dreamed of is also a United States youth international, having competed for the U14, U16 and U17 national teams over the last two years.
When asked what it is like to sign a pro contract and how he was going to get to practice as the 15-year-old is too young to have a drivers’ license, Freeman joked that he expected fellow homegrown talent, midfielder Gianluca Busio to drive him.
Freeman made an immediate impact upon joining Sporting KC’s youth ranks, leading the U-12s at the 2015 Generation adidas Cup in Frisco, Texas — where he scored a brilliant goal that garnered coverage from ESPN — before winning Kansas State Cup titles in 2015 and 2016 with the U13s.
In August 2016, Freeman propelled the Sporting KC U-13s to a fourth-place finish at the CONCACAF U-13 Champions League in Mexico City, scoring three goals at the marquee club tournament. Freeman spent most of the 2016-17 U.S. Soccer Development Academy season with the Sporting KC U14s, also playing periodically for a U16 side that reached the Development Academy quarterfinals for the first time.
The 2017-18 campaign saw Freeman score four goals in 19 league appearances for the Sporting KC U-17s, who qualified for the Development Academy playoffs with a third-place finish in the Frontier Division. He has featured for both the U-17s and U-19s in the early stages of the 2018-19 Development Academy season.
On the international stage, Freeman earned his first selection to the U.S. U-14 Boys’ National Team for a training camp in November 2016. The following June in Zagreb, Croatia, he led the U.S. U-14s with a team-best four goals in friendlies against Croatia, Bosnia, and Herzegovina, and club team Dinamo Zagreb.
Freeman has enjoyed a breakthrough year at the international level. He competed for the U.S. U-16s in April at the prestigious Torneo Delle Nazioni in Italy, contributing to a pair of group stage wins over Macedonia and Croatia before scoring in a 1-1 semifinal draw against Slovenia that the U.S. lost on penalties. He started in the third-place match against Japan and guided the side to a 2-1 victory. Freeman then received his first call to the U.S. U-17 Men’s National Team in August for a Costa Rica training camp where he was the youngest player on the 23-man roster. He scored in his U-17 debut on Aug. 7 to help the Americans to a 2-2 draw against hosts Costa Rica.
Freeman is the 10th Homegrown Player in Sporting KC history.
He is also the second-youngest to sign an MLS contract behind current midfielder Gianluca Busio, who was 15 years and 89 days when he officially joined the club in September 2017.
Major League Soccer established the Homegrown Player initiative in 2007, allowing teams to promote youth academy players to professional contracts.
These players must meet Homegrown Player criteria, including participation in the club’s youth system and residence in the team’s Homegrown territory.
Born: 1/9/2003 (15 years old)
Weight: 150 lbs.
Hometown: Shawnee, Kansas
Birthplace: Overland Park, Kansas
All-Time Sporting KC Homegrown Players
- 2010 – Goalkeeper Jon Kempin
- 2011 – Defender Kevin Ellis
- 2013 – Defender Erik Palmer-Brown
- 2016 – Forward Daniel Salloi *
- 2017 – Midfielder Gianluca Busio *
- 2017 – Defender Jaylin Lindsey *
- 2018 – Defender Matt Lewis
- 2018 – Forward Zach Wright
- 2018 – Midfielder Wan Kuzain Wan Kamal *
- 2018 – Forward Tyler Freeman
* Denotes player on current Sporting KC roster