FRISCO, Texas – The 2021 preseason is just around the corner and, after a busy offseason, FC Dallas will welcome a myriad of new faces to Toyota Soccer Center. Among them is 21-year-old winger Kalil ElMedkhar who joins Dallas after playing four seasons with the University of Kentucky.
A product of the Philadelphia Union academy system, FCD traded for El Medkhar’s Homegrown rights for an initial $50,00 in General Allocation Money (GAM) and signed him to a two-year contract. El Medkhar – who impressed FCD coaches at a college combine late last year – was originally slated to enter the 2021 MLS SuperDraft. Worried that he’d be off the board by the time FCD’s 15th overall pick came up, Dallas’ staff decided to initiate the trade with Philly beforehand to make sure they got their man.
ElMedkhar knew FC Dallas was interested in him but the January Homegrown rights trade still came as a shock—albeit a welcome one.
“I really had no idea they were going to trade for my rights,” he told FCDallas.com. “I woke up one morning to a phone call from my agent saying that they already traded for my rights, so I found out after the fact. So, it really caught me by surprise and it was pretty crazy.
“The week leading up to it was pretty nerve wracking, going through the draft process and stuff like that. I wasn’t hearing much from my agent. Then, to get that call while I was with my family, I can’t even explain the emotions. Every good emotion I could ever feel, I felt. I felt relief, I felt excited obviously. It was a dream come true. It’s everything I’ve worked for over the years, and it was there on my doorstep.”
The Delaware native comes from good stock having developed in the Union’s YSC Academy along with former MLS standouts Mark McKenzie and Brenden Aaronson.
“It was a good experience,” ElMedkhar said of his time in Philly. “I definitely learned a lot and the were a lot of good guys and good coaches there. It obviously didn’t work out there but I’m happy it worked out in Dallas. It definitely gave me some insight into what the professional environment looks like. And to just get that exposure and experience there was really good.”
But after three years at the academy level, ElMedkhar was receiving only minimal interest from college programs. So, the ambitious winger set out to make his own path: “I actually reached out to Kentucky first and then they watched a couple of my games and invited me on a visit. As soon as I saw what they had to offer, I made my mind up right then.”
His gamble paid off and ElMedkhar became a starter in his second season for the Wildcats, contributing 11 assists over the year (second most in school history). By the time his collegiate career was over, ElMedkhar boasted back-to-back United Soccer Coaches All-Southeast Region and All-Conference USA first-team appearances.
Aside from his personal motivation, ElMedkhar’s ambition stems from his family background. He is a dual citizen after his father emigrated from Syria to study medicine at the University of Delaware. ElMedkhar himself has visited the soccer-crazed nation “three or four” times but hasn’t been able to return since the country erupted into civil war in 2011.
“I still have a lot of family there (Syria),” ElMedkhar said. “I have endless amounts of cousins, six uncles, two aunts there. I love it there but obviously I haven’t been able to go back since 2010. It’s hard not being able to go back and see my family but I keep in contact with them often. They were really excited to hear the news and they’re really proud of me. So that’s something that I use as motivation for sure.”