Sporting Kansas City II has announced the signing of Nati Clarke to an MLS NEXT Pro professional contract.
Clarke, a product of the Sporting KC Academy, played a crucial role in the team’s 2023 MLS NEXT Pro campaign, starting 18 of 19 regular season appearances. In that time, he accumulated 1,589 minutes and tallied two assists, leading all Sporting Kansas City Academy players on the team in starts, appearances, minutes, and assists.
Clarke, who was born in Ethiopia and raised in Topeka, Kansas, joined the Sporting KC Academy in 2016 at the U12. He quickly gained the attention of the coaches, earning minutes at two Generation adidas Cups and appearing in the 2016 Concacaf Champions League with the Academy. He also represented the United States at U15, notably competing in the 2019 UEFA U-15 Development Tournament. He captained the team in two matches during the tournament and converted his penalty kick in a shootout against host Poland.
Clarke made his professional debut on July 10, 2022, in a 2-0 win at Colorado Rapids 2, appearing as a second-half substitute. His first pro start came on Aug. 7, 2022, against Houston Dynamo 2.
In addition to his impressive performances for SKC II, Clarke was selected for the highly touted 2023 MLS NEXT All-Star Game. The outside back entered in the second half with the West trailing 2-0 and helped orchestrate an impressive comeback that sent the match to penalties. Clarke put the ball in the back of the net in the third kick of the shootout. The West team went on to win the MLS NEXT All-Star Game trophy.
Clarke played a major role for SKC II in the second half of the season and was an important contributor to the team’s playoff push. He was named MLS NEXT Rising Star of Matchday 19 for his efforts in a 4-0 clean sheet victory over Rapids 2 at Rock Chalk Park.
We wish Clarke the best of luck in his future!