Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Sporting KC signs midfielder Michael Kafari

Sporting Kansas City announced the signing of 22-year-old Michael Kafari on Tuesday. Kafari has been added to the club's roster and will occupy a supplemental roster spot.

"We scouted Michael in college," Sporting KC Manager Peter Vermes said. "He has some qualities that we like and that we think will be able to fit in with our team."

"I'm very excited to join Sporting Kansas City," Kafari said. "This is a great organization and it's a honor to sign with them. The players have welcomed me from day one and I look forward to playing for the MLS Cup champions."

The native of Accra, Ghana moved to the United States in 2001 at age nine and is a naturalized U.S. citizen.

A product of the Boise Nationals Soccer Club in Boise, Idaho, Kafari also trained with the youth academies at Bolton Wanderers and Chelsea FC of the English Premier League as a teen. After transferring from Mountain View High School prior to his sophomore season, Kafari lettered all three years at Centennial High School and led the Patriots to a state championship during his senior season in 2009.

Kafari was recruited to the University of New Mexico, where he helped lead the Lobos to a 58-16-12 record in his collegiate career with three goals and three assists. His 82 appearances rank sixth most in school history and were instrumental in securing first place finishes in the MPSF Mountain Division (2011, 2012) and Conference USA (2013) regular season standings as well as four consecutive berths in the NCAA Tournament.

New Mexico became one of only three college programs to reach the NCAA Tournament's Sweet Sixteen each of the last three seasons, beginning in 2011 when the Lobos were eliminated by Dom Dwyer and the University of South Florida in a penalty shootout. In 2013, Kafari's senior season came to a conclusion in College Cup with a 2-0 loss to eventual champions Notre Dame in the semifinals.

Kafari was one of five College Cup Final Four participants to attend the 2014 adidas MLS Player Combine and paired with fellow Sporting KC teammate Victor Munoz on Team Predator.

The Vancouver Whitecaps then selected Kafari in the third round of the 2014 MLS SuperDraft (No. 51 overall) and Kafari signed with their USL PRO affiliate Charleston Battery in mid-March after spending preseason with the Canadian club.

The 6'1" two-way midfielder made his competitive debut for Charleston on May 28 in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup third round. He started and played 71 minutes against the Orlando City U-23's in a fixture that set the competition record for the longest penalty kick shootout at 14 rounds following a 2-2 draw through extra time.

Kafari was also a member of the Austin Aztex during their USL Premier Development League expansion season in 2012. Coached by current Real Salt Lake assistant Paul Dalglish, Kafari played alongside fellow MLS players Michael Lisch, Kris Tyrpak, Blake Smith, Kekuta Manneh and Dillon Powers.

Sporting Kansas City now has 28 players under contract with the addition of Kafari to the team's roster. Two players (Jon Kempin and Christian Duke) are currently on loan to USL PRO affiliate OKC Energy FC and three players are unavailable due to injury (Chance Myers, Ike Opara and Peterson Joseph).