22-year-old striker tops voting by overwhelming margin on the back of successful season

(November 8, 2011) – Major League Soccer announced today that Sporting Kansas City forward C.J. Sapong has been named the 2011 MLS Rookie of the Year.

Sapong finished the MLS regular season with five goals and five assists while also becoming the only player on Sporting Kansas City’s roster to feature in all 34 of the club’s regular season matches.

“Receiving this honor is very humbling, but it would never have been a possibility without the help of so many people. Our goal at Sporting KansasCity is to do everything as a team, and I am so thankful for my teammates and the coaching staff,” Sapong said. “My parents have been a huge influence in my life and have kept me level-headed, and all of my friends and family back in Virginia and at James Madison, plus all the great Sporting Kansas City fans in make winning the 2011 MLS Rookie of the Year even more special.”

After being selected with the tenth overall pick in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft, Sapong announced his arrival to Major League Soccer by opening the scoring in Sporting Kansas City’s first regular season match against Chivas USA in just the second minute of play. Sapong would then go on to score the first-ever goal at LIVE STRONG Sporting Park, the game-winner against the San Jose Earthquakes on June 17.  In total, Sporting Kansas City held an unblemished record of 5-0-0 in regular season matches when Sapong scored a goal.

“The organization is extremely proud of C.J. We believed in him right from the start, but we didn’t expect him to come along and exceeded expectations the way he did,” Sporting Kansas City manager Peter Vermes said. “We’re excited because C.J. has such a bright future for Sporting Kansas City.”

Of Sapong’s five assists on the year, two led to game-winning goals for Sporting Kansas City. Only midfielder Graham Zusi tallied more assists for Sporting Kansas City in the 2011 season. Sapong also added three goals in Sporting Kansas City’s Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup campaign and scored the final goal for Sporting Kansas City in the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Colorado Rapids.

Sapong becomes the first player in club history to be recognized with the award. For a special highlight reel of Sapong’s best moment’s from the 2011 season, click here.

All first-year players in MLS without previous professional experience wereeligible for the Rookie of the Year award, voted by media, MLS players, and MLS club management. Sapong led the voting by an overwhelming margin in all three categories.

The other two finalists were D.C. United defender Perry Kitchen and Philadelphia Union midfielder Michael Farfan. Below is a breakdown of the voting for the top seven candidates:

Player (Club)

% of Club Votes

% of Media Votes

% of Player Votes

Weighted Total

C.J. Sapong (SKC)





Perry Kitchen (DC)





Michael Farfan (PHI)





Darlington Nagbe (POR)





Will Bruin (HOU)





Gatorade Rookie of the Year Winners

2011: C.J. Sapong – Sporting Kansas City

2010: Andy Najar – D.C. United

2009: Omar Gonzalez – LA Galaxy

2008: Sean Franklin – LA Galaxy

2007: Maurice Edu – Toronto FC

2006: Jonathan Bornstein – Chivas USA

2005: Michael Parkhurst – New England Revolution

2004: Clint Dempsey – New England Revolution

2003: Damani Ralph – Chicago Fire

2002: Kyle Martino – Columbus Crew

2001: Rodrigo Faria – MetroStars

2000: Carlos Bocanegra – Chicago Fire

1999: Jay Heaps – Miami Fusion

1998: Ben Olsen – D.C. United 

1997: Mike Duhaney – Tampa Bay Mutiny 

1996: Steve Ralston – Tampa Bay Mutiny