Best XI: Who were the stars of Round One, Game 1?
The first chapter of every Round One Best-of-3 series is in the books.
Sporting Kansas City announced in January 2020 that the club had acquired central midfielder Gadi Kinda on a one-year loan from Israeli Premier League side Beitar Jerusalem. Kinda has played over 200 matches in Israel since turning professional in 2011 at age 17. He arrives in Kansas City after starring as one of the Israeli Premier League’s best players during the first half of the 2019-20 season. Before his move to Sporting, the playmaker ranked fourth in the league with a team-best seven goals while also leading the side with four assists.
Sporting resigned Kinda following a wildly successful 2020 campaign in which he earned club Newcomer of the Year honors as well as a share of the Golden Boot after scoring six goals.
2022: Missed the entirety of the 2022 season after undergoing an arthroscopic procedure on his right knee. Was placed on the Season-Ending Injury List on April 29.
2021: MLS Regular Season: Started 24 of 26 matches, scored five goals and added eight assists (2035 minutes played). For a second straight season, he scored in the season opener, a 2-1 win at the New York Red Bulls on April 17 in which he converted a penalty. Scored a 90th-minute match-winner against Austin FC on May 9 at Children's Mercy Park. Picked up his first assist of the season in a 3-0 victory over Vancouver Whitecaps FC on May 16. Scored the fourth goal of a 4-1 thumping of LAFC on Aug. 4. Assisted Alan Pulido's goal against FC Dallas on Aug. 14 in a 2-0 Sporting KC victory. Grabbed a goal and an assist against the Houston Dynamo on Oct. 3, setting up Daniel Salloi in the 26th before scoring in the 57th on an assist from Salloi. Assisted both of Johnny Russell's goals against the LA Galaxy on Oct. 27. Assisted Khiry Shelton's goal against Minnesota United in the following match on Oct. 31 and made it three straight matches with an assist when he set up Johnny Russell's goal against Austin FC on Nov. 3. MLS Cup Playoffs: Started both of Sporting KC's post-season matches (158 minutes played). Started against Vancouver Whitecaps FC in Round One, playing 87 minutes in the 3-1 win on Nov. 20. Played 71 minutes on Nov. 28 against Real Salt Lake in the Western Conference Semifinals.
2020: Earned Sporting KC Newcomer of the Year honors. MLS regular season: Started 16 of 18 appearances, scored six goals and recorded four assists (1,394 minutes played). Scored on his MLS and Sporting debut, curling home a left-footed stunner in the 39th minute of a 3-1 victory at Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Feb. 29. Assisted Alan Pulido's opener and scored the third goal in a 4-0 win over the Houston Dynamo on March 7. Assisted Khiry Shelton's goal in a 3-2 win over the Colorado Rapids on July 17. Scored an early goal in a 2-1 road win at Minnesota United FC on Aug. 21. Scored an excellent goal on an overhead kick in a 5-2 loss to the Houston Dynamo on Aug. 25. Assisted Erik Hurtado's first-half goal and scored a second-half goal in a 2-2 draw at Chicago Fire FC on Oct. 17. Scored a goal in a 4-0 win over the Colorado Rapids on Oct. 24. Assisted Roger Espinoza's goal in a 1-0 win at FC Cincinnati on Oct. 28. MLS is Back Tournament: Started three of five appearances and recorded one assist (316 minutes played). Assisted Khiry Shelton's goal in a 3-2 group stage win over the Colorado Rapids on July 17. MLS Cup Playoffs: Made two substitute appearances (57 minutes played). Played 23 minutes in the Western Conference Quarterfinals on Nov. 22, coming off the bench as Sporting defeated the San Jose Earthquakes 3-0 in a penalty shootout following a 3-3 draw. Played 34 minutes as a second-half substitute in a 3-0 loss to Minnesota United FC in the Western Conference Semifinals on Dec. 3.
Beitar Jerusalem (2019):
Born in Ethiopia and raised in Israel, Kinda joined Beitar Jerusalem in February 2019 and has played a leading role in the club’s turnaround over the last year, starting in 30 of 31 appearances in all competitions. After finishing 11th in the 2018-19 regular season table, Beitar Jerusalem currently occupies third place in the Premier League and won the 2019-20 Toto Cup Al last September with a 2-0 win over reigning champions Maccabi Tel Aviv.
FC Ashdod (2013-2018):
Kinda spent the first seven and a half years of his professional career at FC Ashdod. Debuted for Ashdod in 2013, making five appearances. He became a regular starter for Ashdod during the 2013-2014 campaign, making 28 appearances in all competitions, scoring twice and adding two assists. Scored his first top-flight goal in a 3-2 defeat of Israeli giants Maccabi Haifa in September 2013.
He featured regularly for Ashdod in the 2014-15 season, making 30 competitive appearances. The 2015-16 season saw Ashdod compete in Israel's second division but a strong bounce-back culminated with a Liga Leumit title as Kinda earned 27 appearances and helped his team finish atop the standings by a seven-point margin.
Ashdod’s subsequent promotion to the Premier League saw Kinda tally seven goals and seven assists over the next two and a half seasons before his transfer to Beitar Jerusalem.
INTERNATIONAL (5 caps, 1 goal):
On the international stage, Kinda debuted for Israel on June 5, 2021, and scored his first international goal for the senior squad in his debut against Montenegro in an International Friendly. He has made five appearances for Israel, competing in three UEFA World Cup Qualifiers for the 20222 FIFA World Cup in Qatar and two International Friendlies. He has represented Israel at the U-18, U-19 and U-21 levels. He featured in qualifying matches for the 2013 UEFA European Under-19 Championship as well as the 2015 and 2017 editions of the UEFA Under-21 Championship. Kinda has yet to earn his first cap for the Israeli Men’s National Team but was selected to the senior squad for UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying in fall 2019.
Developed as a youth in his hometown club’s academy prior to landing an Israeli Premier League debut in September 2011 as a 17-year-old.