MLS released their list of 24 players that are under the age of 24 and excel in the league yesterday. To my surprise, there were no players from Sporting KC on the list. None at all. And yet, this team is touted as one of the best when it comes to youth development. So what gives?
It turns out that only two Kansas City players made the "short list" of 50 players. That list is voted on by a variety of media members across the US and Canada based on five categories that are definitely up to interpretation.
- Technical (skills, dribbling, shooting, first touch, heading, etc.)
- Soccer IQ (positioning, reading game, situational understanding, tactical awareness, etc.)
- Physical Attributes (speed, endurance, strength, vertical leap, etc.)
- Personality (attitude, marketability, media savviness, charisma, intangibles, etc.)
- Potential (improvability, ceiling, national team potential, potential future transfer value, etc.)
The two players from Sporting KC were Erik Palmer-Brown and Soony Saad. It's easy to see where these players would score high - Soony probably was off the charts in the personality category - after all, what other player would dance like a member of N*SYNC with his teammates? EPB surely scored highest in potential. The Juventus rumors combined with his multiple appearances for the U20 National Team have to be considered.
However, it seems that there were two players on Kansas City's team that deserved more consideration. Specifically, Igor Juliao and Jon Kempin. Both of these players were forced to step up after injuries, and both certainly rose to the challenge. Juliao has played over 1,600 minutes and started 19 games in only MLS play. He would undoubtedly score high in physicality and should earn a decent score in potential as well. Kempin won save of the week twice in his short time as starting goalkeeper, and would probably earn high scores in potential and soccer IQ.
Sporting KC is one of the best clubs when it comes to youth development- that is simply a fact. In some cases, it takes a little while for the development to pay off. However, the strong youth portion of this team should not have been forgotten in this list.