Not even the goalkeepers could avoid the injuries that plagued Sporting KC. Eric Kronberg was finally given the starting job before breaking a bone in his left hand; and then Andy Gruenebaum also missed time forcing youngster Jon Kempin into duty. With nobody able to really take hold of the starting job, the club declined the options for both players. Kronberg was picked up in the Re-Entry Draft by the Montreal Impact. Gruenebaum was also selected, but he chose to retire to and join the Sporting KC broadcast team.
Kempin grew up in Leawood, KS and then attended Blue Valley North High School where he would sign with Sporting KC at the age of 17 and become the teams first ever Homegrown Player. He has played for every level in the American Youth ranks since the U-15's and in January was awarded with a call-up to the senior team's camp. Last season he was loaned to the USL Pro affiliate, OKC Engery FC where he could be groomed by none other than Jimmy Neilsen. SKC recalled him in July and he appeared 4 times with 3 starts. He was also selected for the 2014 MLS Homegrown Game during All Star week and was named Most Valuable Player. Although he was quite serviceable in his time last season, Kempin will be loaned back to Oklahoma City for more time with the great White Puma when the season begins.
After being used as an emergency call up as the League Pool Goalkeeper by Sporting KC (as well as FC Dallas and D.C. United) last season, the club signed him to a contract in December. He has been in the league since 2010 playing for RSL and Chivas, but only appeared in 6 games with 5 starts over that period. Melia has been brought in to be the backup for starter Luis Marin. Kempin would likely compete for that backup job, but he needs playing rather than warming the bench. The club is not playing in the CCL this season, so starts for Melia will most likely be limited to US Open Cup matches.
Marin was at the very top of KC's wish list when they went shopping for a starting keeper. Jimmy Nielsen was sent to evaluate and woo the player and he succeeded. Having spent in his entire career playing in his native Chile, there is sure to be an adjustment period entering MLS this season. But the club has very high hopes for the 31 year old veteran. He is known for being active and having the ability to play with the ball at his feet, something we aren't used to seeing from the Sporting back line. Another quality to look for in Marin, is the ability to lead. He joined the Chilean National Team at the 2010 World Cup and even captained the team the team in 2012. Marin has come in with the right attitude and players are speaking highly of him. Besler noted that Marin wanted to immediately room with an English speaking player to try and remove the language barrier as soon as possible. Other than being active and coming off his line frequently, we still have yet to get a good look at him. The club seems to think he has the talent to be the "best in the league", but the beginning of the season will be interesting. Marin will need to adjust to a different style of play in MLS, and Sporting KC will have to adjust to a new style of goalkeeper.