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After winning three state championships with the Magnum and a hoard of individual honors during his time at Forest Park, Sapong played his college soccer at James Madison in Harrisonburg, Va. In four years there, he started 67 of the 71 games he appeared in, recording 37 goals and 21 assists.

Kansas City selected Sapong with the 10th overall pick in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft. In retrospect, it was the steal of the draft. At the time, however, the move was widely dismissed as a reach by Kansas City, which reportedly tried to move down in the order but couldn’t find a trade partner.

“That’s obviously going to stir you up a little bit and give you extra to prove,” Sapong said. “I just put my head down and did it.”

He didn’t waste time proving his skeptics wrong: Sapong started and scored in the first match of the season, a 3-2 triumph at Chivas USA.

If there’s one attribute those around Sapong are quickest to vouch for, it’s his work ethic. Krieger said the player is always fast to “take any failure and learn from it.” Lanza lauded Sapong’s desire to “work on all parts of his game to be a complete player.” And Zusi noted that on the professional level, “You can see that he wants to get better every single day.”

With that type of commitment, it may only be a matter of time before Sapong achieves his next childhood dream: a move to a major European club.

“That’s where you want to be,” Sapong said. “I think I can still learn a lot by being in MLS for a year or two. But that’s definitely a goal I want to reach in my career.”