Sporting Kansas City has signed 24-year-old forward Soony Saad, the club announced.
Saad, a Lebanese international who previously played for Sporting Kansas City from 2011 to 2014, has signed a two-year contract through 2018 with an option for 2019. He will be added to the team’s roster pending receipt of his International Transfer Certificate.
“I am so glad to be back in Kansas City, a place that I grew to love,” Saad said. “I certainly have unfinished business to take care of here, and I am ecstatic for the opportunity to return. I will bring my experiences as a team leader in Thailand as well as a new maturation level on and off the field. I am eager to join the team for preseason and excited to once again see all of the great supporters at our games.”
Saad rejoins Sporting Kansas City from Pattaya United of Thailand’s first division, where he scored nine goals across 28 Thai League appearances in 2016. He has also recorded three goals for the Lebanon Men’s National Team since making his senior international debut in 2013.
“We feel that bringing Soony back at this time is a great fit for us,” Sporting KC manager Peter Vermes said. “There are certain aspects of his game that can really help us in areas of the field where we need additional support. We are excited to see how his game has matured over the past two years and look forward to working with him again.”
During his first stint with Sporting Kansas City, Saad tallied 14 goals and seven assists in 71 appearances across all competitions. He was signed by Major League Soccer and allocated to Sporting Kansas City via a lottery draft in July 2011. The following month, he scored nine minutes into his MLS debut on his 19th birthday to become the youngest goal scorer in club history.
In 2012, Saad played nine MLS matches – including his first MLS start at Seattle Sounders FC in June – and helped Sporting Kansas City capture the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup title, scoring two pivotal goals in a 3-2 third-round victory over Orlando City.
Saad enjoyed a breakout year in 2013, reaching MLS career-highs with four goals, four assists and 23 games played. He also notched a brace in a 2-0 CONCACAF Champions League win at Honduran side Olimpia and appeared in two playoff games during Sporting KC’s run to the 2013 MLS Cup championship. In his final MLS season, Saad scored five goals across all competitions and helped the club advance to the MLS Cup Playoffs for a fourth straight year.
Thai outfit BEC Tero Sasana signed Saad ahead of the 2015 season and loaned him to Pattaya United last year.
Saad represented the United States at the youth international level, notably scoring the game-winning goal for the U-20s in a 2-0 result against Canada in December 2010. In 2013, he became the first MLS player to join the Lebanon Men’s National Team and scored on his debut, a 1-1 draw with Oman on May 29.
A native of Dearborn, Mich., Saad played one season of college soccer at the University of Michigan in 2010, leading the NCAA in scoring with a school-record 19 goals as a freshman. He was an All-Big Ten First Team selection, the Big Ten Freshman of the Year and an NSCAA second-team All-American.
Commission looks at business park, light industrial development on south side of shopping center
Years after pursuing retail development for Indian Springs, on Monday night Unified Government officials set a new course for a business park and light industrial development to be built on the south end of the complex.
Some sort of retail development, such as a grocery store and other businesses, may still be in the plans for the north side of the shopping center complex at 47th and State Avenue, according to officials, although they said they would not be locked into any plans yet for that part of Indian Springs. Officials are hoping the business development on the south end of the shopping center will spark development on the north end and also at other sites nearby on State Avenue.
An Indian Springs retail development similar to the grocery store and retail businesses at the Prescott Center at 18th and I-70 was suggested by developers, although there are as yet no actual commitments for retail there.
The business park idea represents a change from about a year ago, when UG leaders said it was worth waiting for the right retail development for Indian Springs, and had expected retail development along with mixed use. Earlier redevelopment ideas had included some mixed-use proposals such as office space plus retail.
The old Indian Springs mall, on 60 acres at the prime real estate location of I-635 near I-70 in Kansas City, Kan., was torn down during the past year. Former owners of the mall had also changed it into a business park concept in its later years.
Hunter Harris of Lane 4 Property Group presented the plan to the UG Economic Development and Finance Committee Monday night. He said for 2.5 years he had worked on the project, observed the retail market, and met with retailers.
“The writing became very clear late this summer,” Harris said. “It became very clear to us, in speaking to some of these retailers, that it lacked for some of the daytime populations and the jobs located at this site, in order to sustain many of those business models.
“Getting activity on the site, getting a project going, getting the community excited about this area, was very important,” Harris said. The business park on the south side has several advantages. “It provided for the jobs that we needed, the daytime population that we needed for many of these retailers, and it helped put pressure on the front half of this site.”
The grocery-anchored neighborhood retail development will not be a big box development, Harris said, and many of those big box developments are not being built anymore.
UG Administrator Doug Bach said that although 65,000 people live within a three-mile radius of Indian Springs, there was still difficulty in getting retailers to locate there.
He said Lane 4 has said that they can make a business park work there, but there is no guarantee that the business park will bring retail businesses at Indian Springs, although it may help. Bringing employees to the site would mean a certain number of persons there in the daytime, which may help to attract retail businesses, according to UG officials.
Marlon Goff of the UG economic development department said a flexible use concept will include a building that could have a sort of a retail showroom in the front, with storage or light industrial space in the back.
Indian Springs was being marketed to retailers about the same time that other old malls in Greater Kansas City, such as Metcalf South and Metro North, were being redeveloped and announcing new plans. Goff said retailers are weighing decisions about where to locate in an industry with small margins, which has continued to be pressured from online competition.
Bach said the UG has probably $20 million in expenses from Indian Springs. Demolition was around $2.5 million, he said. The UG paid $7.5 million for the shopping center years ago, according to officials, and the amount was litigated in an eminent domain case. There also were expenses to move some businesses and tenants out of Indian Springs.
Some of the UG commissioners and mayoral candidates in the past had made campaign statements about the redevelopment of Indian Springs. Many are up for re-election in August and November of this year.
Commissioner Melissa Bynum, at Monday’s meeting, thought it might be a good idea to bring health-related offices to Indian Springs. She would like retail opportunities offered on the north side and west side of the shopping center.
Commissioner Brian McKiernan said the Prescott Plaza has been very successful even though it doesn’t seem to have a large number of residences surrounding it.
In answer to a question from Commissioner Harold Johnson, Goff said there have been some direct overtures from businesses about this particular type of flex business park usage. Johnson said the project could be looked at as the start of further development around Indian Springs, including more development at Tower Plaza.
David Alvey said Indian Springs is a gateway spot, and the question is how long the UG can sustain not paying off the bonds.
“Can we assume that given one, two, three years, that the right mix of retail will come in, and if there is no evidence of that, we’re right back to what do we do,” Alvey said.
Commissioner Jane Philbrook said she cared a lot about what Indian Springs looks like.
“I want that to be a place where people look at and say, wow, something’s really happening there,” she said. It’s one of the few places where people drive north to get to the airport, and she would like to see people stop there, she said. She also said they need to get something going to get some momentum there.
Commissioner Jim Walters said he saw the value in having the industrial-business flex portion of it, if it is a means to an end, which is bigger than it could be without it.
“I see nothing on the east side of this plan that is in any way interesting to me,” Walters, an architect, said. It looks a lot like the 1960s development that is directly west that is underutilized and has struggled greatly in the past few decades, he said.
There is also underutilized retail directly east of I-635, as well, he said.
Walters said what would interest him was having something there that catches people’s eyes.
“I think it would be great if we would build a neighborhood there, to attract new residents who could live there, work there, dine there, have entertainment there, and make a real mixed-use residential neighborhood,” Walters said. “That’s much more difficult than parceling it up into development pads. If we actually wanted to do that, we might have to do the development, rather than contracting with a retail developer to do that.”
He hoped for something “with a vibe” that would attract young people to the community. “I hope we can look for something different, unique and a signature item for our community,” he said.
Commissioner Hal Walker said it wasn’t just the past few years that the UG was looking for retailers for Indian Springs. It has been several years before that, as well. In an earlier development attempt, the developer died before any of the plans could advance.
“Something happening there is better than what’s not happening there now,” Commissioner Walker said.
Lane 4 Property Group has a dual role. It was working in the role of marketing the center and finding retailers to locate there, and it also has an option to develop it. Now it will be working with a partner on developing a “flex-business park” for the south side of Indian Springs, according to UG officials.
According to a Lane 4 website, thenewmetcalf.com, Lane 4 was also developing a plan for the demolition and redevelopment of Metcalf South mall at 95th and Metcalf in Overland Park. In December 2016, the Overland Park City Council approved redevelopment plans calling for a Lowe’s home improvement store as the anchor at a redeveloped Metcalf South, and an additional 13 restaurants and retail shops there.
UG officials said they earlier held “three-on-three” meetings about Indian Springs with Lane 4 and three UG commissioners at a time. Those sessions were not open to the public.
Bach said, after the comments Monday night by the commissioners, that a business park concept plan will be started on the south side of the Indian Springs site. At some point Lane 4 will bring back a more detailed flex-business park plan for the south side of Indian Springs to the Economic Development and Finance Committee, he said.
For more details about the plans for Indian Springs, the UG meeting is online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QcFBtq8ySvI.
Today’s temperatures will be in the low 50s, according to the National Weather Service, dropping from the 60s on Monday.
Temperatures will continue to drop through the week, with a chance of rain on Saturday and Saturday night, the weather service said. At this time it appears that temperatures will be warm enough to support rain, according to the weather service.
The weather service said today’s high will be near 53, with light and variable winds becoming north northwest around 6 mph.
Tonight, the low will be around 31 with mostly cloudy skies and a light northeast wind that will become north northeast around 5 to 10 mph in the evening, according to the weather service.
Wednesday’s high will be near 42 with partly sunny skies and a north northeast wind of 7 to 9 mph, the weather service said.
Wednesday night, expect mostly cloudy skies and a low of 22, with a north wind of 7 mph, according to the weather service.
Thursday, the high will be near 33 with partly sunny skies and a north wind of 7 mph, the weather service said.
Thursday night, expect mostly cloudy skies and a low of 23, according to the weather service.
Friday, the high will be near 35 with partly sunny skies, the weather service said.
Friday night, expect a low of 23 with mostly cloudy skies, according to the weather service.
Saturday, there will be a 50 percent chance of rain between noon and 2 p.m., then a chance of rain after 2 p.m., the weather service said. The high will be near 37 with mostly cloudy skies.
Saturday night, there is a 40 percent chance of rain mixing with snow after 10 p.m., then gradually ending, according to the weather service. The low will be around 28.
Sunday, the high will be near 44 with mostly sunny skies, the weather service said.