Now that we are a couple of weeks into the offseason of Sporting Kansas City (unfortunately) and everyone is starting to analyze who should stay with the team and who should go. Our friend and the man with the best SKC stats in the business, Mike Kuhn, recently advocated giving up on the Connor Hallisey experiment.
As a quick reminder, Hallisey was selected with the tenth overall pick in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft. That draft pick was acquired for CJ Sapong. That alone feels like a bad deal but at the time Peter Vermes indicated he wouldn’t be able to protect Sapong in the 2014 MLS Expansion Draft or afford him going forward. Sapong has been quite good for the Philadelphia Union and Hallisey has obviously not been good.
It doesn’t help that two picks later Sporting KC selected Saad Abdul-Salaam with the 12th overall pick. Abdul-Salaam had an OK rookie season, but he really broke out in 2016 and seems to have taken the starting spot at right back from Chance Myers. I can hear you all now:
Chad, you said we shouldn’t give up on Hallisey. You aren’t making a very strong case.
I hear you voices in my head, let me get to that. Comparing a winger to a fullback is tough. So let’s go apples to apples. Here are two stat lines for two separate Sporting KC players taken in the SuperDraft over their first two seasons.
Obviously Player A got more minutes but neither player really had great seasons in their first two years in MLS. Player A is Hallisey and Player B is Graham Zusi.
Now I’m not big Graham Zusi fan. I literally wrote an entire piece about who should replace Zusi and his abysmal output over the last two seasons. I’m also in no way saying that Connor Hallisey will reach the level of Graham Zusi. My point is two years in MLS isn’t really enough to know if he’ll emerge as a valuable contributor in Peter Vermes’ system.
Also, Connor is on a relatively cheap contract and he’s shown a knack for staying healthy (which is more than can be said about most of the other wingers on the team). My understanding is that MLS rookies sign two-year deals with another two option years for the team.
This team needs healthy bodies on the wing and if everything works out in the offseason, Connor should be pretty far down that winger depth chart. If that is the case then he can go out on loan to the Swope Park Rangers and really get some good development time. He only played once for SPR last season but ideally he’ll get a lot more minutes next season. With those minutes he’ll hopefully keep improving and maybe he’ll even have a breakout season.
Zusi’s third season saw him make 32 appearances (25 of them starts). He put in five goals and added seven assists. The next year Zusi really broke out with five goals and 15 assists. I don’t imagine Connor will do that, but you never know. He did get his first goal this season in the CONCACAF Champions League (though it was a penalty kick).
So let’s exercise some patience and just wait and see. If at the end of the year Connor still isn’t fulfilling his potential then we can reassess things at that time. To use the words of Aaron Rogers, R-E-L-A-X.