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Sporting KC II Add Croatian Youth International Defender

18-year-old Aljaz Dzankic could be another center back in the Croatian pipeline.

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The roster build for Sporting Kansas City II continues. Today, they announced the signing of yet another international player. This time it’s Croatian youth international center back Aljaz Dzankic.

Despite representing Croatia, he’s actually born and raised in Slovenia and has spent most of his time playing there. He started his youth career with NK Maribor, one of the most successful clubs in Slovenia. There he rose all the way to the U-19 level before going to Italy and joining Udinese in 2019. He made 16 appearances for their youth team before returning to Slovenia last summer with his most recent club, NK Aluminij, where he made his pro debut.

Dzankic is able to represent Croatia because of his grandfather. He has made 20 appearances for them across multiple age groups: U-15, U-17, U-18 and U-19. He just played against Hungary (coincidence?!) on February 17th.

According to Transfermarkt, his contract with NK Aluminij ran through the summer of 2023. It was not readily apparent why he was available to join SKC II, though the announcement lists the move as a signing, not a loan, so one assumes he was released from his contract.

Where Does Dzankic Fit with Sporting KC II?

He can line up at both left and right center back. The team currently has three other CBs on the roster: Kaveh Rad (19), Danny Barbir (23) and Petar Cuic (21). Cuic has primarily lined up a defensive midfielder in recent games, but he played CB extensively before. At the very least, it would seem the 18-year-old Dzankic would provide good depth in central defense. Despite his youth, there is no reason he won’t get playing time as the entire team is incredibly youthful.

This signing brings the roster up to 15 total players, though two (Aedan Stanley and Preston Judd) were drafted by MLS clubs and may ultimately join those sides if contract offers are made. It seems very likely Stanley will sign with Austin FC as SKC II already signed United States youth international Travian Sousa to fill that roll.

There will still be plenty more signings to come though the team is getting thinner at international spots. According to previous rules, only seven internationals could be on the team. The USL is less transparent than MLS so it’s not entirely clear what players are taking up those spots but Dzankic and Cuic are two, along with Dominik Resetar, David Panka and likely Ropapa Mensah. Expect many, many SKC Academy players to join in the coming weeks.

As of right now the team has no right backs on the roster, just five forwards, three midfielders and a single goalkeeper. Obviously, it’s likely loans from the first team will fill out the roster, but COVID-19 could still lead to restrictions in player movement.