MURCIA, Spain – Mark-Anthony Kaye was never a top MLS SuperDraft pick or a highly-touted academy product ushered into MLS.
But the LAFC midfielder’s emergence as a regular in his early MLS career is a tribute to hard work and persistence that took him through three different USL franchises before finally getting signed on the west coast before this season.
“All the hard work is finally paying off,” Kaye said after Canada national team training on Friday ahead of Saturday's friendly against New Zealand (11 am ET | Watch on CanadaSoccer.com). “The work gets harder when you get to the next level so it’s a great story for other players to look at. You might not always just jump right into MLS. You might have to take a different pathway there.”
Kaye joined the Toronto FC academy after two years playing for York University in Ontario. He had a loan deal with the Wilmington Hammerheads, signed with Toronto FC II and last season was at Louisville City, where he helped the Kentucky side win the USL league title.
Persistence has paid off in a big way as Kaye has started both games for the unbeaten LAFC. He now figures to be a regular for Canada after making his national team debut last year in a friendly against Curacao.
“Everyone has the ability to grind it out but it needs to come gradually,” said Kaye. “It can’t be forced out of someone by a coach or another player. It has to kind of come in your own way so, for me, I’ve had to work hard my whole career. I don’t know anything else than working hard so it’s kind of helped me claim my way at the club.”
Kaye had a few impressive moments in last summer’s Gold Cup and he hopes to keep his development going under LAFC head coach Bob Bradley.
Having only made the jump to MLS when the time was right, the 23-year-old Kaye thinks life in Los Angeles will only help him continue to develop.
“He’s a well-respected manager all over the world and it was just an honor when I heard the call," he said. "He’s really keen on getting the young players to grow. That’s me. So far go good. I’ve played two games of 90 minutes so I’m on right path. And Bob coaching me is the right thing.”