Sporting Kansas City’s Jake Davis earns a contract extension. Here are the details

A little over a year ago, Peter Vermes gave Jake Davis, a young homegrown midfielder, a shot at the right-back position in a 2023 U.S. Open Cup Match against Tulsa Athletic.

The risk was worth taking against a semi-pro team trekking north for the knockout game. After all, multiple players ahead of him on the depth chart were injured, and others who had received fill-in opportunities did little with them.

Davis was an intriguingly good fit in that match and got another start the following Saturday. Two weeks later, he played an integral defensive role in the much-discussed 2-1 win in Seattle, ending Sporting’s winless stretch in MLS play and setting the tone for a dramatic team turnaround.

Davis never really looked back, and even as Graham Zusi picked up another injury, the spot became Davis’ more for his play than his availability.

“There are many guys that have chances, whether it be through the pro player pathway, or they come into the team in a different mechanism,” Vermes said. “At the end, it all comes down to how much you want it.”

Davis clearly took advantage of his chance, leading to his contract extension through 2027 with an option for 2028, which the club announced on Wednesday afternoon.

“It’s a great achievement for myself,” Davis said. “But when I signed my first deal, Peter always said it’s about the next contract and working for it. I have three more years here now. I’m just working for the next contract and trying to become the best player I can be in that time.”

Davis is the sixth homegrown player to earn that second contract with Sporting. He has now made 42 appearances in all competitions. Since he started against Tulsa, he’s only missed one match, and last week’s loss in Minnesota was due to a suspension for yellow-card accumulation.

He scored his first MLS goal in Sporting KC’s 3-1 win over Toronto FC and has four assists since he started playing right back.

Part of the equation that measures whether a club has a successful academy is whether or not players develop and make themselves a part of the squad — and then move on via a transfer, earning the club a decent-sized profit. But on the flip side, it’s equally valuable to develop young players — at little to no acquisition cost — who become core pieces.

Sporting hasn’t hit on homegrown players as often as it would like. But it can be tricky, Vermes said, to know if a player has the right blend of physical and mental traits to earn a second contract..

“I say this all the time: There are so many good players that do not make it in this game that have unbelievable qualities, but it’s because they don’t have the right mentality,” Vermes said. “If you cut ‘em, you don’t know if they bleed. If you listen, you don’t know if they have a heartbeat, and that’s why they don’t make it.”

Davis moved from Rochester, Michigan, to Kansas City in 2017, living with a host family as he joined Sporting KC’s academy. He earned his homegrown deal in 2021 after making more than 20 appearances with the Swope Park Rangers, which became Sporting KC II.

Eventually, he even earned a first-team look.

“I think I always just kept my head down and did the work,” Davis said. “To sit here right now with Peter and the club and know that I just signed a new contract means a lot because I feel like I’ve worked for it.

“But again, I want to keep the same attitude and know that I’m gonna keep my head down and work as hard as I can to make sure I become a better player every day for this club.”

Daniel Sperry covers soccer for The Star. He can be reached at