Sporting Kansas City announced Wednesday that the club has signed 22-year-old forward Zach Wright as a Homegrown Player. Wright has signed a one-year contract with options for 2019, 2020 and 2021.
Wright competed for the Sporting KC Academy U-18s during the 2013-14 U.S. Soccer Development Academy campaign before excelling at the collegiate level, where he amassed 15 goals and 28 assists over four seasons at the University of North Carolina.
"Zach showed a lot of improvement at North Carolina after playing for the Academy," said Brian Bliss, Sporting KC Director of Player Personnel. "We are excited for him to start competing with the team during the preseason."
Wright was the leading goal scorer for the U-18s in his lone Sporting KC Academy season. He attended Blue Valley Northwest High School as a senior after moving to Kansas City from his hometown of Smithville, Texas.
A heralded college recruit, Wright embarked on a successful career at North Carolina where he played 79 matches with 61 starts. He assisted at least five goals in all four seasons with the Tar Heels - reaching a career-high with 11 assists during his senior campaign in 2017. He bagged 10 goals across 2015 and 2016 and added four more last year, including a pivotal strike and game-winning assist in UNC's 2-1 victory over Fordham University in the national quarterfinals on Dec. 2.
Wright helped North Carolina to a 51-14-10 record from 2014-2017, a stretch that produced four straight NCAA tournament appearances as well as consecutive trips to the Men's College Cup in 2016 and 2017. In each of his final two seasons as a Tar Heel, Wright was a Second Team All-ACC selection and ranked third on the ACC assist charts.
From 2014-2016, Wright was college teammates with current Sporting KC defender Colton Storm, who joined the club last year as the No. 14 overall pick in the 2017 MLS SuperDraft.
Wright becomes the seventh Homegrown signing in Sporting KC history. MLS established the Homegrown Player initiative in 2007, allowing clubs to promote youth academy players to professional contracts. Per MLS rules [cl.exct.net], a club may sign a player to a professional contract without subjecting him to the MLS SuperDraft if the player has been a member of a club's youth academy for at least one year and has met the necessary training and retention requirements.