Sporting Kansas City’s locker room is about to get an injection of youth.
On Friday, the club announced the addition of their third Homegrown player, as 16-year-old center back Erik Palmer-Brown became the youngest signing in Kansas City history. He is also the only player currently on a Major League Soccer roster born in 1997.
"I couldn't be more excited for the opportunity ahead," Palmer-Brown said in a statement. "To play the sport I love professionally and to begin my career in my hometown is a dream come true. I owe a lot to my family, my coaches and my teammates for helping me reach this point."
Since joining Sporting’s academy at the age of 13, Palmer-Brown’s career has taken off, with the 6-foot-1, 175 pound defender playing for the US U-15 side before being invited to attend the U.S. Soccer Residency Program in Bradenton, Fla., where he played for the U-17s under the guidance of Richie Williams.
He’s also trained with the Sporting KC first team and appeared in MLS Reserve League matches for his hometown club. By signing with Kansas City, Palmer-Brown will forgo his college eligibility. He is ranked ninth nationally by Top Drawer Soccer for the collegiate class of 2015.
While beginning his MLS career, Palmer-Brown will complete his high school education at Archbishop O'Hara High School in Kansas City, Mo.
"We have put a strong emphasis and many resources into our Academy program and this is another example of the great strides taken in helping our players reach the next level of soccer," Vermes said. "[Director of coaching] Jon Parry and his staff have done a tremendous job in the development of Erik Palmer-Brown and we are excited to watch his growth within Sporting Kansas City."
Palmer-Brown joins goalkeeper Jon Kempin (2010) and defender Kevin Ellis (2011) as the club's Homegrown products. He will occupy the club's available off-budget roster spot and will remain eligible to play in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy for the Sporting KC Academy U-18 team.