ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – In January former Lobo midfielder Michael Kafari was drafted by the Vancouver Whitecaps in the third round of the MLS SuperDraft. On Tuesday he signed a professional contract, but not with the team that drafted him. Instead, Kafari signed with fellow MLS club Sporting Kansas City.
“I’m relieved,” Kafari said. “It’s been a long six months (since the draft). I’m happy to sign with Kansas City because I came (to Kansas City) before my senior season and trained for a week and really enjoyed myself. With (U.S. Men’s National Team players) Graham Zusi and Matt Besler it’s a great team. They won the MLS Cup last year and I look forward to playing with them.”
He becomes the third Lobo from the 2013 squad to sign an MLS contract, joining defender Kyle Venter (LA Galaxy) and goalkeeper Michael Lisch (Houston Dynamo), and the seventh Lobo overall who played for head coach Jeremy Fishbein at UNM to do so.
“I’m really happy for him,” Fishbein said. “He gets to play for the defending MLS champion. I think it’s a good fit for him. I think he can make a contribution in their pursuit of another championship.”
A native of Ghana, Kafari appeared in 82 games, including 61 starts, in four years primarily as a defensive midfielder for the Lobos, and he played over 6,500 minutes for Fishbein. He was named Second Team All-MPSF as a junior, and as a senior he was a third team selection for the NSCAA’s All-Midwest Region team as well as Conference USA’s All-Conference team. He helped guide the Lobos to four straight NCAA Tournament berths and three straight Sweet Sixteens.
He joins a loaded KC team that features, in addition to Besler and Zusi, another former USMNT player in Benny Feilhaber, who played for the U.S. in both the 2010 World Cup and the 2008 Olympics.
“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.”
Kafari will occupy a supplemental roster spot on the club’s roster.