clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Jon Kempin, Andrew Tarbell and the confusing narrative of the 2016 MLS Draft

Comments from Robb Heineman and Peter Vermes have left people confused as to the future of Jon Kempin.

Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Thursday was weird for a lot of reasons. For one, Sporting Kansas City is a team that likes to build through the draft and they traded away their only pick in the first round of the MLS Superdraft for targeted allocation money. They left Baltimore with their wallet a little heavier, but with no new player.

It turns out that the player they wanted was Andrew Tarbell, a keeper out of Clemson. Tarbell was selected eighth overall by San Jose, leaving Sporting Kansas City without anyone else they wanted. In between the Tarbell pick and Sporting KC's pick, Robb Heineman sent this out.

Heineman has always been a very public figure who is open about Sporting KC's goals and players they are trying to get. So it's not really a surprise that he's open about who they were targeting in the draft. What confuses me is that they saw him as a "ten-year keeper," which implies that he would be the keeper for the foreseeable future.

The overriding narrative for the past few seasons is that Jon Kempin is the keeper of the future, and that Eric Kronberg, Luis Marin and Tim Melia were the placeholders until Kempin was ready. Tarbell may be better than Kempin, but Kempin re-signed with Sporting Kansas City just this winter. Why would Sporting KC re-sign Kempin if they were looking to upgrade?

The notion that Tarbell was the target and not just posturing by Heineman was confirmed by Vermes, further muddling the goalkeeper picture.

Now Sporting KC does not have Tarbell and they have Jon Kempin. So my question is, if they wanted Tarbell but did not get him, why are they publicizing it? What potential benefit do they have by letting Kempin know publicly that they do not have faith in him to be the starting goalkeeper?

As a team owner and coach, sometimes one has to be blunt and brutal with their moves. In the sports world, players are treated as assets to be used or moved at the clubs' discretion. But this situation does not make any sense. Maybe they're trying to trade Kempin or Tim Melia, or would have tried to trade Tarbell if they selected him. But without that action, these tweets make no sense.

As it stands right now, Tim Melia is the starter heading into 2016 with Jon Kempin possibly heading to Swope Park Rangers and Alec Kann backing up Melia. These comments reveal some previously hidden misgivings regarding Kempin, which has come as a surprise.

Maybe this will make sense in the future, but for right now it just seems like bad business.