In the past week alone, four future draft picks have been traded away by Sporting Kansas City for players. Some may criticize Sporting KC for supposedly trading away the future for winning now, but that's not how I see it.
Sporting traded away an extra draft pick they acquired in August from New York Red Bulls to Montreal Impact for Josh Gardner, some extra depth at defender. Then, they traded their first round pick in 2014 and a second round pick in 2015 for New England Revolution midfielder Benny Feilhaber.
Then, with the latest news today, Sporting had traded their natural second round pick in 2013 for San Jose man Ike Opara, a 23-year-old proven defender who will provide some nice depth for Sporting KC in 2013 in their various competitions.
And that's the point. Sporting KC isn't trading away their future; they are just being smarter with it.
Sporting now only has two people over the age of 30 on their team: Newly acquired Josh Gardner (30) and keeper Jimmy Nielsen (35). Their core, outside of Nielsen, is extremely young. Reigning MLS Defender of the Year Matt Besler is only 25, CJ Sapong is 23, Kei Kamara is 28, Graham Zusi is 26.
Sporting Kansas City already has a very young core. They already have their future for the foreseeable times. What they are doing with their draft picks is supplementing that core with proven players. Benny Feilhaber is an established 27 year old midfielder who only took two draft picks, two "ifs," to acquire.
Opara is another example. Sporting gave away a player that "might" turn out well with their second draft pick, but they used it to get a proven defender who will provide excellent depth at the center back position. And, the best part, Opara is only 23 years old. Sporting KC grabbed a young proven player for a pick that may or may not have panned out.
The past picks for Sporting KC have not been that successful. First round pick in 2012 Dom Dwyer has picked up some minutes, but hasn't made that much of an impact. The second round pick Cyprian Hedrick has already been released.
In 2011, first round pick CJ Sapong has, indeed, made a very big impact. Their second and third round picks, JT Murray and Konrad Warzycha, have already been released as well. Picks after the first round have been roster filler for Sporting for the past couple of years. They are really not that important.
The way Sporting has been able to take those otherwise useless picks and translate them into proven players is nothing short of astounding. The front office deserves to be commended for the way they have handled themselves this offseason, and I look forward to skipping the second round of the MLS Superdraft in January, and instead watching Sporting's proven players do their thing.