Did Sporting Kansas City steal Kuzain?
Did the Sporting Kansas City system steal Wan Kuzain Wan Kamal right from under us? GM didn’t offer up a straight “no”, but more or less….no. Earlier this year, 17-year-old Kuzain signed an USL academy contract with Saint Louis FC, which is an amateur contract. This situation alone means Kuzain is and was allowed to leave at any point he chooses. The benefit of this contract for young players like him is that it doesn’t void any NCAA eligibility. These days people argue whether NCAA eligibility is worth it’s weight in gold (almost literally considering college costs) when you have the ability to train with professionals that are between five and ten years more experienced than you. However, in Kuzain’s case, he has the opportunity to play with many of the “college soccer chosen” at Akron University, as he officially committed to the school this summer. Akron is the alma mater of American up and comers such as Darlington Nagbe, DeAndre Yedlin, Perry Kitchen, and Wil Trapp, to name just a few.
So eligibility alone doesn’t explain the situation. When Kuzain signed with Saint Louis FC, he was driving to and from his home in Carbondale, IL every day for training. In order to make this work he was doing his schooling online (no small decision for a 17 year old). Kuz, coming from a tight knit family, was living with his brother closer to the park, who worked in the organization. This January, Kuzain’s brother got a job with the Sporting Kansas City academy program. This situation leaves only a few options: live with a host family, try to get into the Sporting KC system, or drive to and from Carbondale every day. It seems Kuzain chose family.
My initial reaction to this news was, as you may have read above, that Sporting may be targeting our youngest and brightest. They do have an academy in our city already, so it wasn’t a far stretch to at least wonder if this was a possibility. Kuzain is something to be protective of. The potential is there. STLFC GM Jeremy Alumbaugh named his best traits as being “good vision—good on the ball”, arguably two traits the team could desperately use in the near future. Kuzain has also trained with Dutch club Feyenoord and has enjoyed a stint with the US National Team U17’s.
It’s hard to see someone with potential leave us for another club, but who knows what will come after three or more years at Akron. He may be ready to come home to his roots. And who knows what Saint Louis FC’s system will look like by then. -PG
Listen to raw interview footage below