Dia to return to Sporting KC in 2020

Sporting Kansas City has signed 26-year-old defender Amadou Dia. The left back has been added to Sporting’s roster for the 2020 season with contract options through 2022.

Dia began his professional career with Sporting as the 20th overall pick in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft out of Clemson University.

He made 37 appearances for the club in all competitions during a two-year stint highlighted by a Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup title and consecutive playoff appearances.

Dia has spent the last three seasons with perennial USL Championship contender Phoenix Rising FC, where he was named the team’s Defender of the Year in both 2018 and 2019.

“Not many people are blessed with the opportunity to get a second chance at one of the top clubs in the country like I am getting,” Dia said in a news release. “We have some unfinished business to take care of and I’m excited to get going again.”

“We are excited to welcome Amadou back to the club as we begin preparations for the 2020 season,” Sporting Kansas City manager and Sporting director Peter Vermes said.

Dia earned his Sporting debut in Week 1 of the 2015 MLS campaign, becoming the club’s first rookie to start on opening day since 2011. He ended the season with 27 competitive appearances, including four starts in the team’s run to the U.S. Open Cup title. Dia started nine of 10 MLS matches in 2016 before joining the Montreal Impact for the latter half of the season.

Born in Nantes, France, and raised in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, Dia was a leading contributor at Rising FC from 2017 to 2019. He started 87 of 90 USL Championship matches at the club-notching four goals and eight assists-and guided Phoenix to three straight playoff berths, winning the 2018 Western Conference Championship and helping the side to a historically dominant 2019 campaign.

Dia has culminated each of the last two seasons with Rising FC Defender of the Year honors as the club’s first-choice left back. Phoenix reached the 2018 USL Championship Final and ended 2019 with a 24-4-6 regular season mark, setting an all-time American professional soccer record with 20 straight league wins from May 10 to Sept. 14. Dia started in 18 games during the unprecedented stretch as Rising FC totaled a USL Championship record 78 points.

Dia, who represented the United States at the U-14, U-18 and U-20 international levels, holds dual citizenship in the U.S. and his native France. As a youth, he was a United Soccer Coaches All-American and the 2010-2011 Colorado Gatorade Boys Soccer Player of the Year at Mountain Vista High School, where he played alongside current Sporting center back Graham Smith.

In a successful four-year college career at Clemson, Dia logged 70 career appearances, four goals and six assists. As a senior in 2014, he led the Tigers to their first ACC soccer championship since 2001, also reaching the Round of 16 in the NCAA Division I Men’s Soccer Championship and a No. 11 national ranking in the final United Soccer Coaches poll.

Sporting KC opens the MLS regular season on Feb. 29 at Vancouver, then will have its home opener March 7 with the Houston Dynamo at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas.

Season tickets and multi-game ticket packages are available at SportingKC.com.

Christmas Truce commemorated

Soccer enthusiasts from around the region paid homage to the World War I Christmas Truce on Thursday by participating in the seventh annual Truce Tournament hosted by Sporting Club, the National WWI Museum and Memorial and The Soccer Lot.

Approximately 150 participants from 24 teams in the area competed in a 3v3 soccer tournament, while hundreds of additional soccer fans attended the English Premier League Boxing Day Watch Party on large screens inside the National WWI Museum and Memorial, Kansas City, Missouri.

MWFC Reserves claimed the Truce Tournament title in the competitive division for the second year in a row. In the recreational civision, Air Billikens won the title with Team Sal taking the Beer Division crown.

The Truce Tournament is a tribute to the Christmas Truce of 1914 in which the battles of World War I on the Western and Eastern Fronts temporarily subsided. Members of both sides laid down their arms in a time of war to celebrate a day of peace by venturing out to “No Man’s Land” to exchange gifts, sing carols and play soccer.

“The Christmas Truce was a remarkable event during the world’s first truly global conflict,” National WWI Museum and Memorial president and CEO Dr. Matthew Naylor said. “There are substantial lessons to be learned from those soldiers who displayed an unbelievable amount of humanity in the midst of horrific warfare and the Truce Tournament allows us to recognize and understand how the Great War continues to effect the global community to this day.”

Christmas Truce soccer tournament planned Thursday

Commemorating a soccer game played in 1914 on World War I battlefields, the seventh annual Truce Tournament will be held Thursday, Dec. 26, at the National World War I Museum and Memorial lawn.

The event is sponsored by Sporting Club, the National World War I Museum and Memorial, and the Soccer Lot. The soccer tournament is for adults.

An English Premier League Watch Party will also be held at 8 a.m. with an all-you-can-eat and drink buffet. A 3v3 soccer tournament will be played at 9 a.m., with the championship match at 1:30 p.m.

During the Christmas Truce of 1914, battles on the western and eastern fronts temporarily subsided, both sides laid down their arms and celebrated by exchanging gifts, singing carols and playing soccer.

The event also highlights the National WWI Museum and Memorial’s online exhibition, The Christmas Truce, Winter 1914, which features essays from renowned scholars about the remarkable event, dozens of first-hand accounts from soldiers on the front lines and a feature allowing anyone to declare their own truce and share via social media.

Registration for the soccer tournament is closed, but patrons can make reservations for the EPL Watch Party, which features a British pub-themed atmosphere and the ability to watch matches on the Museum and Memorial’s 29-foot and 10-foot screens. Breakfast foods, beverages and cocktails will be available for purchase. For more information or to RSVP, visit thetrucekc.com.