Free agency officially began once the expansion draft ended on Tuesday (but you knew that because you saw our entire offseason schedule). With things under way it seemed worth looking into who Sporting KC may target to bolster their club for 2017.
Famously, Sporting KC signed the first ever MLS Free Agent last year. Justin Mapp was that player. Hey, come back here! Don’t run away. We all know that didn’t work out well. As in six appearances for a whopping 43 minutes bad. All that production for just shy of $240,000.
That didn’t work out, but it doesn’t mean SKC should give up. There are plenty of options out that that may be worth kicking the tires on. While Mapp was relatively high priced and very unproductive, he signed a one-year deal, so it wasn’t a long term disaster. He may have caused the team to think they were set on the wing, so that seems like a good place to start.
Options on the Wing
I think this is fairly obviously a need. Brad Davis and Justin Mapp are gone (if they were ever here). Not to mention Connor Hallisey had his optioned declined, Jacob Peterson is a free agent (who could totally come back at a reasonable rate) and Graham Zusi is inconsistent and unhealthy. At least the team promoted Tyler Pasher from the Swope Park Rangers.
Dominic Oduro - RW - 2016 Salary: $235,000
Oduro is a player who would cost as much or more than Mapp cost in 2016, but he has been relatively healthy. He is an 11-year MLS veteran but is still just 31-years-old. Now that’s not young, but Oduro really hasn’t shown any sign of slowing down. Actually, it’s quite the opposite. He’s blazing fast which is something Sporting KC have lacked over the last few years.
Over the last two seasons with Montreal, Oduro has averaged seven goals and three assists, which would be a nice improvement. All that while playing just 1,850 minutes on average over those two seasons. Oduro doesn’t have to start and is a great option off the bench if SKC sign a DP winger, like Gerso Fernandes (just for example).
Over Oduro’s full career he has amassed 62 goals and 32 assists, so he’s pretty consistent. If nothing else, sign him for his hair. It’s awesome.
Marco Pappa - Winger/Midfielder - 2016 Salary: $110,000
If Oduro is too expensive (and I don’t think he is) then the options get thin. Marco Pappa is often listed as a midfielder but does and has played out wide. He’s still only 29-years-old but was pretty banged up in 2016 and simply out of favor over more exciting options on Colorado.
Pappa has been pretty consistent over his 8-year MLS career, averaging 4.625 goals and 3.875 assists a year, including a debut season where he barely had 200 minutes on the pitch. Then again, Pappa was involved in a stabbing (as in he was stabbed) by former Miss Washington. SKC probably doesn’t need that drama.
This team is a Dom Dwyer injury away from disaster. The only plausible backups are Diego Rubio, who tore his ACL late in the year and will be out a while. Then there is Daniel Salloi, the 2016 Homegrown signing who is currently out on loan. Then maybe Cameron Porter would be up since he lined up there during the CONCACAF Champions League.
Alan Gordon - F - 2016 Salary: $170,000
Gordon is a bit old (35 to be exact) but he doesn’t have a lot of mileage on his body. He is sort of a super-sub just coming on to score goals or starting sporadically, which is exactly what SKC could use. Also, he’s fantastic in the air, scoring a majority of his goals with his head. In the last three season with the LA Galaxy he has averaged 4.3 goals per season across and average of just 732 minutes. That’s a respectable 0.53 goals per 90-minutes. Also, Gordon is from Gilbert, Arizona, which is where I live (so that counts for something).
Mike Magee - F - 2016 Salary: $250,000
Apparently the Galaxy have a ton of attacking options on their bench that may be worth stealing. Magee had a bit of a career resurgence in 2016. He scored six goals and four assists. Magee is only 32-years-old, but I’d personally favor Gordon over him. If nothing I have to include Magee because Robb Heineman was tweeting about bringing him in last year and he may feel bad he missed out on that great year from Magee.
Help Wanted: Backup Goalkeeper
In case you missed it, Alec Kann was re-signed to a new contract and then immediately drafted by Atlanta United in the MLS Expansion draft. There was talk that Peter Vermes would trade to get him back, but Kann is from Atlanta and it’s hard to imagine trading for a backup keeper. It seems more likely he’ll be grateful to get that general allocation money in exchange for losing Kann. As for Adrian Zendejas, he seems destined to be on loan with SPR instead of rotting on the bench behind Tim Melia.
Eric Kronberg - GK - 2016 Salary: $145,200
Kronberg is a former Sporting Kansas City player who has spent nine of his 11-year career in KC. He was drafted by the Wizards in 2006 and basically waited on the bench behind Jimmy Nielsen. In 2014 he finally became the starter going 7-8-5 as he split time with SKC commentator Andy Gruenebaum before being taken in the Re-Entry draft by the Montreal Impact after the season. I can’t see him coming back, especially at that salary. Tim Melia, the presumptive starter, only made $152,500 last season.
Kyle Reynish - GK - 2016 Salary: $62,500
Who? Forgive yourself if you don’t know him. In his eight MLS seasons he only has nine appearances, 775 minutes and a record of 2-1-5. Most of that time was with Real Salt Lake but he was on the New York Red Bulls the last two seasons.
It seems far more likely SKC finds someone we’ve never heard of, drafts a Re-Entry player (like Kann was last season), or maybe even brings up Zac Lubin from SPR.
There aren’t a ton of defenders on Sporting’s roster right now. There are the presumptive starters, Jimmy Medranda (LB), Matt Besler (CB), Ike Opara (CB), Saad Abdul-Salaam (RB), there is just Kevin Ellis (CB), Lawrence Olum (CB/CDM), Erik Palmer-Brown (CB) and Seth Sinovic (LB).
It’s possible Kevin Ellis is the backup left back or that Chance Myers comes back on a reduced deal, but I’m not comfortable with Olum or Ellis being the primary CB backup. Actually, if EPB comes back, he may be the best option (he’s currently on loan in Portugal).
David Horst - CB - 2016 Salary: $91,344
Horst is just 31-years-old and has played for a Houston Dynamo defense that doesn’t really allow a lot of goals. He played in 26 of a possible 34 games and comes in at a very reasonable salary. On top of that, he’s a goal scoring threat from set pieces. He tallied three goals last season (though only has five in his career). The last guy we got from Houston didn’t work out great, but it’s a cheap deal and good consistent depth.
Corey Ashe - LB - 2016 Salary: $105,500
Left back isn’t really a position of need, but Ashe has the ability to line up on the right. He was stuck behind two fairly good fullbacks in Columbus last season but is a player that Vermes has consistently mentioned him as the type of player that fits in KC. He works hard and is basically a wing back which is how the fullbacks on SKC often play. He’s also a relatively cheap depth option.
Marvell Wynne - RB/CB - 2016 Salary: $224,375
Wynne is by far the most expensive “depth” option. He probably would give SAS a run for his money for that right back spot. He played nearly every game the last two seasons for the San Jose Earthquakes and nearly as many the previous five years on Colorado. He played a lot of center back at that time, so he’d be a player who could step into the middle if needed.