The Swope Park Rangers completed another step towards building their first roster over the weekend when they held open tryouts. More accurately it was a mix of open and invitee tryouts with more than 50 players from around the world invited to be there.
There were a little over 200 participants total and the coaches split the players into two groups and then ran the players through a series of small side games. After evaluating the results a group of around 60 players were called back to play full field games the next day.
Rangers head coach Marc Dos Santos was happy with the turnout. When asked if the he got what he expected, Dos Santos replied " Yes absolutely, maybe a little more even. You never know what to expect when there is an open tryout but I think the way the club narrowed it going from around 200 to 55 or 60 on the second day allowed us to see much more than we expected. Some good quality there and some interesting players that we are going to follow up and look at more carefully. Some with a very good background that just need to get back in the market so I think it is important that we do things like that."
There were no specific needs the Rangers were looking for yet since they only have one player on the roster and good amount of time to build the team. "When you do an open tryout like this you really are looking at the best player available," Dos Santos observed. "You are not looking for a specific position or anything like that because we are in the process of building the squad from scratch a little bit and the first game of the USL season is the end of March. So there is time to build and assess things very well but we look at who are the best players, who are the ones it is interesting to build upon and to give a good opportunity and it was interesting what we saw here."
With the roster being wide open at the moment, how many players from the tryout might make the roster? "I am telling you a number but it is not confirmed, far from confirmed but if we get out of something like that with two players on the roster it is very positive," Dos Santos stated.
Not only was coach Dos Santos there but so was most of the Sporting KC first team staff and a number of the Academy coaches as well looking over the talent.
What will the roster look like for the Swope Park Rangers?
According to Rangers GM Kurt Austin they will have approximately 18 players on the roster. With Christian Duke being announced the same day as the Coach Dos Santos the roster is pretty open. It does sound like there could be a couple additions to the squad coming soon, this week or next possibly. There were several players in camp with Sporting Kansas City for the last half of the season that are very good candidates to be one of those announcements.
With only 18 on the Rangers roster, expect to see a number of players being loaned from Sporting KC as well as Sporting Academy players moving up and getting some pro experience while on amateur contracts.
"The challenge is to find guys not just to fill out a roster but to find guys that eventually move into our first team," Assistant Technical Director Mike Jacobs explained at the team announcement. "Some of the trialists we are looking at, if we don't sign them, it's not because they can't play in the USL but because we don't see them long term fitting into our first team."
Everyone with Sporting KC and the Rangers have consistently been on the same page that the roster will be comprised of players that have the potential to contribute at the first team level. Never rule out that they may add a player or two that have MLS/NASL/USL experience and are on the down side of their career for some experience but that is not the target player.
There will likely be a lot of young guys that are looking for an opening into a larger club and hungry to get some first team attention. With only seven foreign player slots in the USL, most of the players will be American or at least have the proper paperwork. It will still be a good opportunity to bring in some younger players from around the world and let them get used to the move before expecting them to compete for playing time on the first team.