Monday it was announced that Sporting Kansas City had waived four players in an apparent attempt to free up some cash space for this offseason. One of the releases that was looked upon as a bit controversial was central defender Julio Cesar, who has been with Sporting KC since March 2011.
He was also the highest paid player for Sporting KC, which makes this decision to release Cesar a good one. To be the highest paid player for the playing time he was getting was illogical.
Cesar was certainly a good player, but he just didn't have a firm place. He was brought in as a central defender, but his competition are two of the three finalists for MLS Defender of the Year in Matt Besler and Aurelien Collin, with Besler the eventual winner.
He played most of his time as a holding midfielder, but in a 3-3-4 like Sporting KC plays there isn't too much room for him on the midfield either. Also, play into the fact that the second highest paid player for Sporting KC, Paulo Nagamara, can fill a holding midfield role if the need arises.
There is no need to have two players worth a quarter-million dollars each for a role that is not always needed. Nagamara is perfect to have, and will fill the role competently. Also, Cesar was getting up in age. 34 years of age isn't necessarily old, but it's not that young either when it comes to soccer.
Along with Cesar, three other players were released by Sporting KC. Serbian defender Neven Markovic played in only two league matches, but provided some depth on the back line, something Sporting Kansas City desperately needed.
With the release of Markovic, an international slot is opened for Sporting KC to go out and sign a need this offseason. Also, with the cash freed up by releasing Cesar, it points to Sporting KC looking for someone big.
While Sporting KC's defending was extremely excellent this season and was one of the big reasons Sporting was able to lock up its second straight Eastern Conference title, there was one glaring weakness throughout the entire season.
Sporting KC took the most shots in the entire league in 2012, but finished twelfth in goals scored, and seventh in shots on goal. Point being that the finishing by Sporting Kansas City was near deplorable, and could have cost them many a match this season. When a team plays three forwards, the goal count needs to be much higher than it was in 2012.
The need for a new striker is evident.
I mentioned in an earlier column that Sporting's biggest need this offseason was a goal-scoring machine that would take some of those misses and turn them into goals. It appears that, with the recent moves, Sporting is headed in that direction. They freed up a quarter-million dollars by releasing Cesar, and an international slot by waiving Markovic.
The pieces are all in place for Sporting to go out and find a new striker that will put the ball into the net more often for Sporting. If Sporting can find that new striker, then 2013 will be a very interesting year indeed.