Erik_palmer-brown_dl Sporting Kansas City
Sciaretta's Scouting Report

Erik Palmer-Brown: A Gem Getting Polished in KC

Brian Sciaretta checks in on the latest product to come from the successful Sporting Kansas City youth academy. The central defender is training with the first team and starting for the U.S. U-18s.

BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
October 24, 2013
3:59 PM
The path for young Americans players in the pursuit of a professional career is filled with difficult choices. Bypass college or sign professionally early? Stay in the United States or move abroad?

For Erik Palmer-Brown, the decisions have been simple. He signed a professional home-grown contract with Sporting Kansas City Academy and eventually became the youngest ever player to sign with the club at just 16. The Lee’s Summit, Missouri native joined the organization when he was 11 years old and blossomed into a top prospect. Top Drawer Soccer, the leading youth soccer website, ranks Palmer-Brown as the No. 1 prospect of his age group in his region and the ninth overall prospect in the country.

Like all prospects of his stature, he had options for his future but he elected to remain with the Kansas City organization.

“It was a tough decision to pass up college but Sporting made it really easy,” Palmer-Brown told American Soccer Now. “It’s like family there. I’ve been there most of my life—since I was like 11. They brought me up since I was a kid. I feel it was a great decision. The fans are great. The whole community is great. The team has taken off since we got a new ownership. We’re flying.”

While most players his age are preparing for college, Palmer-Brown is focused on developing his game where he can eventually help an SKC team that is one of the best organizations in MLS. It doesn’t mean, however, that he is completely removed from the typical American teenage lifestyle. Palmer-Brown still attends high school at nearby Archbishop O'Hara where he often stays late to continue his studies. Sporting Kansas City monitors his grades to, as Palmer-Brown puts it, “make sure I’m focused.”

After school, the central defender trains with Sporting Kansas City’s first team every day. He watches Matt Besler’s approach to the game both on and off the field. “Right now I still need to develop,” Palmer-Brown said. “You can tell. Playing against guys like Besler. I still have a lot to learn. It’s great being in the position I’m in to learn from the starting national team center back. I have a lot of people to look up to and great coaching. I’m not too worried being in the starting lineup too soon.”

Sporting’s head coach Peter Vermes emphasized that Palmer-Brown is an example of the club’s goal of developing young American players. Palmer-Brown is the third homegrown player on the club’s roster joining Jon Kempin and Kevin Ellis. In addition to training with the first team, he also plays competitively with the club’s U-18 team.

“We have put a strong emphasis and many resources into our Academy program and this is another example of the great strides taken in helping our players reach the next level of soccer,” Vermes said while announcing Palmer-Brown’s signing in August. “Jon Parry and his staff have done a tremendous job in the development of Erik Palmer-Brown and we are excited to watch his growth within Sporting Kansas City.”

On the international front, Palmer-Brown played for the United States U-18 national team for the Limoges Tournament in France. American head coach Javier Perez had Palmer-Brown play every minute in a draw against France and a pair of victories over the Czech Republic and Poland. Palmer-Brown scored the only goal against the Czechs when he headed home an Emerson Hyndman corner kick.

“The first game against France we definitely started off slow in the first half,” Palmer Brown said of the 2-0 hole the team found itself in. “We were dominated. We didn’t have the ball too much. It felt like we were chasing. In the second half, we came out with a much better mentality and had the ball a lot more. We got those two goals back. We’re happy to come out with that 2-2 result after being down 2-0 in the first half. That’s always good.”

“In the wins over the Czech Republic and Poland, we definitely out played both those teams,” he added. “We probably should have put more goals in against both of them. But still, getting the three points is good but it’s got to be better on the offensive side finishing our chances. It was a great experience from that aspect because they were three national teams with a lot of history. As a team we played really well. It helped us come together as a team to get results against some of the top soccer countries in the world.”

As for his short-term goals internationally, Palmer-Brown has a goal to grow with the U-18s and help build a core for the US U-20 team for the 2017 U-20 World Cup. He acknowledges that it will be difficult to break into the U-20’s this cycle but in having the benefit of playing in a professional setup, he is pushing for it.

“Our goal is to be in the core group for the next U-20 cycle but I would love to play up in this cycle, Palmer-Brown said. “Hopefully I can progress where I’m playing at U-18 level to get looks at from the U-20 coach. But it’ll be hard. The [current group] is a great group of players. If I put the work in, it could come up possibly.”

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