Sporting Kansas City signed 26-year-old defender Jalil Anibaba on Friday after acquiring his rights from Orlando City SC.
Anibaba was selected in the third round of the 2014 MLS Expansion Draft by Orlando City SC on Wednesday and was subsequently traded to Sporting KC as part of an agreement reached Monday between the two clubs.
In addition, New York City FC selected midfielder Sal Zizzo from Sporting Kansas City’s unprotected roster in the ninth round of yesterday’s Expansion Draft.
Sporting KC declined a contract option for Zizzo last month and will receive allocation money as compensation for his selection in the draft.
Anibaba made 112 regular season appearances over four years with the Chicago Fire (2011-2013) and Seattle Sounders FC (2014). He has recorded four goals and six assists while splitting time as a central defender and right back.
He signed a new contract with Major League Soccer on Friday and has been added to Sporting Kansas City’s senior roster for the 2015 season.
“Jalil is a player we scouted and interviewed heavily before the 2011 draft and we are excited to bring him to Kansas City now,” Sporting KC manager Peter Vermes said. “We look forward to seeing his athleticism and personality within the group come January.”
“First I would like to thank Seattle, their coaches, players and fans for their support last year, and I am definitely excited to come to Kansas City,” Anibaba said. “I look forward to contributing to our championship-caliber team and am ready to get to work. I anxiously await playing in front of the amazing fans at Sporting Park. Being on the visiting end there numerous times, it will feel great to be on the right side and be a part of the incredible atmosphere.”
In 2014, Anibaba made 16 regular season appearances for Supporters’ Shield winners Seattle Sounders FC. He also played in four matches during Seattle’s run to their fourth Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup championship.
His first three professional seasons came with the Chicago Fire, which drafted Anibaba in the first round of the 2011 MLS SuperDraft after he was named MVP at the 2011 MLS Player Combine. He played in 96 of the team’s 102 regular season matches from 2011-2013, appearing in the 2011 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup final and being named a finalist for Major League Soccer’s Fair Play Award in 2013.
As a youth, Anibaba represented the United States at the under-18 and under-20 national team levels.
He played in the 2007 Pan-American Games in Brazil before attending Santa Clara University, where he was the West Coast Conference Freshman of the Year and earned All-WCC honors three straight years.
Anibaba transferred to the University of North Carolina for his senior season, starting all 24 games and leading the Tar Heels the College Cup en route to a First Team All-ACC selection.
Sporting Kansas City players currently under contract:
Goalkeeper (1): Jon Kempin
Defenders (8): Jalil Anibaba, Matt Besler, Kevin Ellis, Igor Juliao, Chance Myers, Ike Opara, Erik Palmer-Brown, Seth Sinovic
Midfielders (7): Bernardo Anor, Jorge Claros, Benny Feilhaber, Mikey Lopez, Jimmy Medranda, Paulo Nagamura, Graham Zusi
Forward (4): Claudio Bieler, Dom Dwyer, Jacob Peterson, Soony Saad
- Story from Sporting KC