Over the last two weeks both Sporting KC and the Swope Park Rangers have been very busy in terms of transactions, especially considering the secondary transfer window has closed in MLS. Let's get right to it.
Diego Rubio is No Longer on Loan
Sporting KC made the Diego Rubio loan permanent when they announced they have exercised their option to end the loan and keep Rubio with the team.
"This is good news for both the club and for Diego," Sporting Kansas City Manager Peter Vermes said. "I give a lot of credit to our staff, which did its due diligence to get the original loan deal for Diego done. That gave us ample time to see how he would integrate within our system. We were pleased with what we saw and look forward to his continued progression with our club."
Rubio had originally joined the team in March of 2016 after SKC sold Krizstian Nemeth and needed some depth at forward. He was listed as a Young Designated Player when he first joined the team, but after his first loan ended at the end of June, he no longer counted as a Young DP. Obviously he must be joining on a lower contract than a DP or Young DP as there is no mention of that tag when the news of his permanent move broke. As for what Rubio is making, we'll have to wait for the second MLSPU salary release which should be in the coming month or two.
Rubio has had limited playing time in MLS league play, but he has looked dangerous. He has a single goal across a whopping 13 performances. That said, he's only played 296 minutes and many of his minutes are in the dying stages of games when teams are parking the bus to prevent a goal. Rubio also has a goal in the US Open and another while on loan with the Swope Park Rangers.
SPR Sign Akeil Barrett
Speaking of Swope Park, they recently added former second round MLS SuperDraft pick from Orlando City, Akeil Barrett. Barrett has already made three appearances for SPR and contributed a goal in his debut. Barrett has shown crazy speed, but you can clearly see what he still needs to work on. His touch isn't always the best and his two shots in Wednesday's game against San Antonio FC were just massively off target.
Barrett never appeared for Orlando City after being drafted by the club and actually played further up state in Florida with the Jacksonville Armada (who fun fact, were coached by former SKC member Tony Meola for part of 2016 until he was fired). Barrett spent the 2015 season in Jacksonville and part of the 2016 season with Piteå IF in the Swedish Division 1. At still just 24-years-old, he is young enough to have the ability to develop into a better player and at the very least to be a late game burst of speed who could change the game for the Rangers.
Sporting KC Loan Nine (!) to the Swope Park Rangers
Ahead of today's showdown with second place Rio Grande Valley FC, SKC loaned nine players down to SPR. The Rangers are battling for a playoff spot and it will be interested to see if all these additions help or hurt. Essentially a mostly MLS lineup is expected to play, but it's all a bunch of guys coming off injuries or lacking in minutes.
The nine players making the temporary move are Goalkeeper Tim Melia, defenders Ever Alvarado, Kevin Ellis and Seth Sinovic, midfielders Emmanuel Appiah, Connor Hallisey and Paulo Nagamura, and forwards Cameron Porter and Diego Rubio.
Melia has been dealing with a back injury that has caused him to turn the keys to the first team over to Alec Kann. Sinovic is also is coming off an ankle injury that resulted from a drain being put just beyond the end line when SKC traveled to play Central FC for the CCL. This will be Sinovic's first minutes. Most of the other players joining have also seen action during the CONCACAF Champions League but less so during league play.
I'm sure the other teams in the USL can't love playing a mostly MLS team, but beyond Melia, everyone else are pretty much backups. It will be interesting to see how the stars from SPR mix with the SKC players. If I had to put out a lineup it would probably look something like this:
Sinovic - Didic - Ballo - Ellis
Nagamura - Ualefi - Ayrton
Hallisey - Rubio - Pasher
That would leave Alvarado, Porter and Appiah on the bench to be used as one of five subs in addition to still having Mark Anthony Gonzalez, Dane Kelly and Akeil Barrett available. Not to mention rest some SPR players who have been playing a lot. Realistically, Pasher is probably coming off the bench too, but I really like him.
SPR Add Four SKC Academy Players
The Swope Park Rangers have continued their tradition of signing SKC Academy players when they added Christian Albelo, Felipe Hernandez, Wan Kuzain Wan Kamal and Patrick Wilkinson. They will join other Academy products like Will Little, Ezra Armstrong and Jaylin Lindsey on the squad. This continues to bridge the gap between the SKC Academy and the senior team and gives these young players a chance to step up their level of competition.