by Gavin Day
Talented soccer players usually get their start in training academies at a young age, try their luck with professional clubs in Europe or find their way south of the border through the U.S. college system.
But not former York Lions player Mark-Anthony Kaye. The six-foot-two-inch midfielder got his start at York University, where he played Ontario University Athletics (OUA) soccer for two seasons, scoring 18 goals over 29 games and helping the team to a fourth-place finish at the national university championships in 2013.
“I liked the fact that he wanted to be involved. I also liked the fact that, technically, he had a lot of potential,” says Lions head coach Carmine Isacco, who recruited Kaye straight out of high school. “I saw a whole lot of raw potential.”
In 2013, Kaye joined Toronto Football Club Academy, the training arm of Major League Soccer’s Toronto FC. In 2014, he played in League1 Ontario with the senior academy team, appearing in nine matches and scoring one goal.
“I’m grateful for the path I went on,” says Kaye from California, where today he plays with Major League Soccer’s Los Angeles FC. “I learned a lot. There were a lot of ups and downs. It took longer than I would have hoped or expected to get to where I am today, but I think that’s what helps me appreciate my success even more.”
Los Angeles FC had the best regular season record in Major League Soccer this past season. Kaye contributed to that success, scoring four goals and contributing eight assists in 31 games.
Impressed with his play, LAFC has signed Kaye to a contract until at least 2021, regarding him as an invaluable player.
Back in Canada, Kaye continues to gain increased recognition as a regular call-up to Canada’s national team.
“I love working with Mark. I remember the first conversation I had with him. It was an hour and a half on the phone where he told us his whole journey,” says Canadian national team head coach John Herdman. “You got a sense of just how hungry he is.
“He wants to get to the top of the game.” ■