He just has a knack for being in the right position and finding the net. —Layton coach Rick Talamantez, on Kaden Amano
LAYTON — Most athletes, when asked about their individual success, err on the side of caution. After all, no one wants to be seen as proud, arrogant or ungrateful. As a result, compliments of teammates, coaches and others roll easily, almost weightlessly, from their lips. Yet when it comes to Layton High School’s Kaden Amano, Deseret News’ 2017 Mr. Soccer, those seemingly cliché answers were completely genuine.
For all his success, Amano led all Lancers with nine goals and seven assists during their 2017 championship run, Kaden refused to take credit, doling out praise to anyone and everyone involved with the Layton soccer program.
“It honestly feels so awesome (to be named Mr. Soccer), but I couldn’t have done it without my coaches,” said Amano. “My brother (Layton co-head coach Derek Amano) has been with me since day one. Our head coach Rick (Talamantez), I’ve known him since I was really little. He’s helped me become the player I am today. Honestly I needed the entire team. There isn’t a guy we could’ve done without. They all deserve this award.”
Layton High School's Kaden Amano poses for photos after being named Mr. Soccer on Friday, June 9, 2017. | Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
His unabashed belief in others, notably his teammates, was a major reason Amano was named a team captain midway through his sophomore year and held the title the following two seasons.
“The kids looked up to him, even as a sophomore,” said Talamantez. “He is a fantastic player with a great soccer IQ, but more importantly for us he led both on and off the field.”
No sequence demonstrated the quality of Amano’s leadership more than a deferred penalty kick in Layton’s 4-1 quarterfinal victory over American Fork.
Holding a two-goal lead late in stoppage time, the Lancers were awarded a penalty kick and the chance to silence any and all doubts that they would claim the victory. Throughout the season, Amano was the designated penalty-kick taker, one of many reasons the attacking midfielder led all Lancers in goals scored.
On this occasion, Amano refused the goal scoring opportunity and individual glory, in favor of a senior teammate that had yet to net a goal.
“Kaden told him to ‘put it away’ and he did just that,” said Derek Amano. “After the game we asked Kaden why he gave up the penalty kick. He said he had scored throughout the season and he wanted his teammate to score a goal as a senior. Kaden believed he deserved that.”
It takes more than just good character to be named Mr. Soccer, however. Talent is an essential requirement, and Amano has it in spades.
Layton High School Lancers forward Kaden Amano (10) kicks a penalty kick during the game against Herriman High School during the 5A championship game at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy on Thursday, May 25, 2017. | Nicole Boliaux, Deseret News
“He was our leading scorer from the midfield, which is pretty phenomenal,” said Talamantez. “(Kaden) is such a diverse player. If I needed him on the front wing he could play that. If I needed him on defense he could play that too. He just has a knack for being in the right position and finding the net.”
The Copper Hills Grizzlies were made painfully aware of that fact, in their semifinal bout with Layton. The two teams had battled to a 0-0 draw in regulation and appeared certain to go scoreless through the two overtime periods as well. That is until Amano corralled a deflected shot and deftly found the back of the net.
“Scoring that golden goal to send us Rio Tinto, that was one of my greatest moments playing soccer,” said Amano. “That and the second we won the championship.”
Amano will have many more chances at soccer glory as he is set to attend and play for Westminster College in Salt Lake City, but it’ll take something truly special to surpass his tenure at Layton.
“I love the competitiveness of soccer, but the thing that has made (my time at Layton so special) is I got to play the sport I love with my friends,” said Amano. “I have known most of the guys on the team since we were in elementary school (Layton had 13 seniors on the roster this season). Winning State with them, it was the best you could ask for. Nothing is better than that.”
Nothing except perhaps Mr. Soccer himself, Kaden Amano.