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Sporting KC II signs Leo Christiano, Nati Clarke and Matthew Hudson to MLS NEXT Pro amateur contracts

By Sam Kovzan, 03/24/23, 11:30AM CDT


Sporting Kansas City II announced today that the club has signed three Sporting Kansas City Academy players to MLS NEXT Pro amateur contracts: defender Leo Christiano, defender Nati Clarke and goalkeeper Matthew Hudson.

All three players have inked amateur contracts on a single-game basis, preserving their NCAA eligibility, and will be available for selection on Sunday when Sporting Kansas City II opens the 2023 MLS NEXT Pro campaign with a visit to Colorado Rapids 2 in an 8 p.m. CT matchup that will stream live on Apple TV's MLS Season Pass.

Christiano, a native of Buffalo, New York, joined the Sporting KC Academy in 2019 and has represented Sporting at the U-12 through U-19 levels. The 16-year-old left back can also play on the wing, having scored numerous goals during his time in Kansas City. Christiano was notably a member of the U-14 Sporting side that won the 2021 US Youth Futsal National Championship and subsequently helped the U-15s reach the 2021-22 MLS NEXT Cup Playoffs.

Born in Ethiopia and raised in Topeka, Kansas, Clarke joined the Sporting KC Academy in 2016. He has previously represented the United States at the U-15 youth level, notably competing in the 2019 UEFA U-15 Development Tournament. He donned the captain's armband in two matches during the tournament and converted his penalty kick in a shootout against host Poland.

Clarke spent the 2020-21 MLS NEXT campaign with the Sporting KC U-15s before joining the U-17s ahead of the 2021-22 season. The 18-year-old signed his first amateur contract with Sporting KC II last July and started five of nine MLS NEXT Pro appearances for the remainder of the season, placing fifth on the team with 16 tackles.

Born in Nebraska and raised in Iowa, Hudson has signed an amateur contract with Sporting KC II for the second consecutive season. The 17-year-old goalkeeper has played in the Sporting KC Academy for over two years, representing the U-17s and U-19s. He also boasts preseason training experience with Sporting's first team in Arizona, having competed alongside MLS pros Tim Melia, John Pulskamp and Kendall McIntosh.

Transaction: Sporting Kansas City II signs defender Leo Christiano, defender Nati Clarke and goalkeeper Matthew Hudson to MLS NEXT Pro amateur contracts.


Leo Christiano
Position: Defender
Birthdate: 3/13/2007 (16 years old)
Height: 5-9
Weight: 165 lbs.
Hometown: Buffalo, New York
Birthplace: Buffalo, New York

Nati Clarke
Position: Defender
Birthdate: 1/29/2005 (18 years old)
Height: 5-6
Weight: 150 lbs.
Hometown: Topeka, Kansas
Birthplace: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Matthew Hudson
Position: Goalkeeper
Birthdate: 4/18/2005 (17 years old)
Height: 6-1
Weight: 180 lbs.
Hometown: Marion, Iowa
Birthplace: Omaha, Nebraska