Connect with us

Sporting KC

A Closer Look at Sporting KC Trialist Jacori Hayes

Plus, the full preseason roster and schedule for Sporting Kansas City’s time in Miami ahead of the 2024 MLS season.



Credit: Thad Bell

This past Sunday, Sporting Kansas City hit the road for their 29th preseason. Excuse the lack of coverage, we were a little distracted.

After spending the last dozen plus years in Arizona, the team is off to Florida for two different phases of preseason. The team arrived on January 14th and will depart from their first leg on the 31st. Then they’ll have a quick turnaround and return on February 4th through the 17th before the start of the season on the road.

As a part of the trip, the team will play five closed door friendlies (read: no streams, but you can always watch Miami…). The only way to follow the games will be by following @SKCmatchday on Twitter or by the press conference that will be covered by the KC Soccer Journal and the other media outlets after the game on Saturday.


  • Saturday, January 20th – 12:30 PM CST vs. Florida International University
  • Friday, January 26th – 10:00 AM CST vs. Charlotte FC
  • Tuesday, January 30th – 11:00 AM CST vs. Nashville SC
  • Saturday, February 10th – 10:00 AM CST vs Miami FC
  • Saturday, February 17th – 10:00 AM CST vs. Atlanta United

Sporting KC will play three MLS opponents, including a first ever meeting between them and Charlotte FC, as well as USL Championship side Miami FC and collegiate club FIU.


Sporting KC’s roster includes 25 of the 26 players under contract, only excluding Logan Ndenbe. Logan is not heading to Florida since he’s rehabbing his torn ACL he suffered (and played 40+ minutes on) against St. Louis City SC to eliminate them from the playoffs.

The team also invited three Sporting KC II players (Nati Clarke, Ethan Bryant and Sebastian Cruz), another three SKC Academy players (Jacob Bartlett, Jack Kortkamp and Cielo Tschantret) as well as two of their 2024 MLS SuperDraft picks. First and third round picks, Ryan Schewe (GK) and Jonathan Robinson (LB) made the trip, while second round pick Dyson Clapier has elected to return to college. Sporting KC will hold his rights for two years.

The last name on the list is MLS veteran, Jacori Hayes, who is joining Sporting KC on trial.

Who is Jacori Hayes?

Hayes is an MLS veteran who has spent some time on loan in the USL Championship and MLS Next Pro. He was originally drafted 18th overall in the 2017 MLS SuperDraft by FC Dallas, four picks behind Sporting KC draft pick Colton Storm.

After spending three seasons in Dallas, including loan spells with the Tulsa Roughnecks (USL) and North Texas SC (USL League One), Hayes was traded to Minnesota United for a third round SuperDraft pick. He spent a little time with MNUFC 2 on loan, but for both clubs, he featured more for their MLS sides. Despite 72 Major League Soccer appearances (FBref), he never eclipsed 1,000 minutes in a league season, coming up just short with 999 minutes in 2018.

After the 2022 MLS season, Minnesota declined his option and he played a year for perennial USL contender, San Antonio FC. He was a regular with SAFC, getting 22 league starts (28 appearances) for 1,995 minutes. On December 18, 2023, Hayes signed a contract with North Carolina FC but presumably that deal has an out if he’s offered an MLS deal.

In total, Hayes has 110 professional appearances (63 starts) for 5,901 minutes. Despite being 28-years-old, he doesn’t have a ton of mileage on his legs.

How Would Hayes Fit with SKC?

Sporting KC play a single pivot defensive midfielder (#6) and two box-to-box #8s, with the left sided 8 generally being more attacking oriented (e.g. Erik Thommy/Gadi Kinda).

Primarily, Hayes has lined up as a box-to-box midfielder as a pro. He’s also capable of playing defensive midfielder but would probably do best in a double pivot with two #6s (d-mids). Sporting KC mostly operate with dual #8s (box-to-box) but experimented at times with Remi Walter having a partner when he was playing more defensively in the midfield.

The team is currently very thin in the midfield with only six players signed to deals after having a staggering 10 in 2023. Gone are Roger Espinoza, Felipe Gutierrez, Cam Duke and Gadi Kinda and the team is left with three likely starters (Erik Thommy, Nemanja Radoja and Walter) and three somewhat youthful backups (Felipe Hernandez, Ozzie Cisneros and Danny Flores).

Going into the offseason, Manager Peter Vermes said the team needed to add “midfielders.” At this point, they’ve only signed two players, left back Zorhan Bassong and forward Alenis Vargas.

While Hayes would fit a need, he hasn’t been a regular at any point in MLS. Outside of a broken leg in his final MLS season, he hasn’t had an extensive injury history. It’s not a flashy signing, if Sporting Kansas City end up offering him a deal, but there is only so much flexibility left in the budget outside of a Designated Player and potentially one more decent sized contract.

I’m not sure if Jacori is the guy, but teams often need MLS veterans capable of soaking up minutes to avoid running the legs off their other players.

Possible Hayes Salary

Throughout his time in MLS, Hayes has been a guy at or near the MLS minimum in pay. The exceptions to that would be the last two years in Minnesota when he made $160,000 in 2021 and $190,000 in 2022. Considering he got cut after the 2022 season and didn’t join an MLS side the next year, I’d imagine a dip in pay is the likeliest of outcomes if he signs with SKC.

If he signs with Sporting KC, the KC Soccer Journal will bring you that news.

Recent Comments

KC Soccer Journal in your Inbox!

Be the first to know when news breaks, sign up to get all of our posts sent directly to your inbox.


Follow us on Twitter