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Twenty-two-year-old rookie joins reigning MLS Cup champions

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 9 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 USL PRO affiliate Charleston Battery in mid-March after spending preseason with the Canadian club.

The 6-foot-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 the team’s 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).

- Story from Sporting KC

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Satisfaction with city services was shown on this chart from a citizen survey.

March 8, 2014

Analysis

by Mary Rupert

A very active Unified Government Commission faces unique budget challenges this year.

In a meeting Saturday at City Hall, commissioners heard a variety of information that may help them sort out their budget issues and make hard decisions on cutting and funding programs.

Topping their list of budget considerations was holding the property tax level. At the same time as holding down the property tax, they will be trying to increase the UG’s fund balances. They learned Thursday night that one of the ratings agencies, Moody’s, may decrease their bond rating if they do not increase the fund balances. A lower bond rating could lead to increased spending in the future on debt service. Another bond rating service, S&P, has given the UG a higher rating than Moody’s.

On Saturday, commissioners also discussed being on the hook for a new $25 million radio communications system approved by a former UG commission. Those funds have already been spent and the payments will come from the county side of the budget, they were told.

The commissioners are discussing their budget priorities and will present them to the administration on March 20.

New Administrator Doug Bach thanked the commissioners for their ideas and said at the end of the lengthy meeting that it appears that the first priority will be to cut $1.3 million out of the operating budget, given the commission’s priority to hold down property taxes.

Mayor Mark Holland suggested targeting overtime and out-of-class pay to hold down costs. The UG is spending $6.5 million in those costs, the budget director reported.

Those funds could be used to help pay for the increased fund balances and also for the new radio system, according to UG officials.

Mayor Holland also remarked that perhaps valuations would go up, while the mill levy would be held steady.

The mayor has supported increased data-driven decisions to find efficiencies.

Commissioner Ann Murguia long has supported using community surveys to rank spending priorities.

Commissioners are delving into budget details through several committees.

Commissioners are studying the budget requests from the community in detail, going over them in a committee.

A citizen survey presented Saturday by Chris Tatham, executive vice president of ETC Institute, will help the commission rank these requests according to the priorities listed on the survey.

Citizens are most interested in better streets, according to the survey, but in recent years, the UG has cut the funding for street maintenance.

Other priorities listed by the survey, for improving city services: code enforcement, communication with the public, public transit and police.

The top priorities for the county services included aging services, motor vehicle registration services and parks.

The three most important community issues included safe neighborhoods, schools and jobs.  There was also strong support to do more to promote economic development, the survey found.

The budget is still in the discussion stage, and none of it is final. The commission began studying the budget months earlier than it did last year.

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