TULSA, Okla. – FC Tulsa announced on Friday it had signed its first player to a USL Academy contract as hometown product Ciaran Winters, an 18-year-old midfielder and product of Sporting Kansas City’s Developmental Academy, joined the club for the 2020 season, pending league and federation approval.
The USL Academy contract will allow Winters to be available for selection with FC Tulsa while preserving his amateur status and maintaining his NCAA eligibility.
Winters began playing in the youth soccer system of Tulsa at the age of 7, winning three state championships among many other youth accolades. While playing youth soccer, Winters received coaching and tutelage under current FC Tulsa head coach Michael Nsien.
“We are happy to announce Ciaran as FC Tulsa’s first USL Academy contract signee,” said Nsien. “Ciaran has an abundance of tools, and we look to build on those as his development continues at the professional level. He has the right mentality to have a professional career, and this year will be a big part of that. It’s important to me to have local academy products coming into the professional team. Ciaran deserves the opportunity, and I expect him to run with it.”
The midfielder has spent the last two years in the academy of Sporting Kansas City competing for the U-17 and U-19 teams. While Winters has yet to make his professional debut, he did receive plenty of seasoning with Sporting KC, making 35 appearances with 23 starts over the last two seasons in its academy. In his time with SKC’s U.S. Soccer Development Academy teams, Winters scored one goal in a 2-0 win against the U-19 academy team from fellow Championship club Rio Grande Valley FC in March.
“It means the world to me signing with my hometown team and getting the chance to represent Tulsa,” said Winters. “I'm ready to give my all to the town that has given me everything.”