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Breaking Down Sporting KC’s Four Roster Cuts

Only four players have been released so far and we take a look at those moves.

MLS: U.S. Open Cup Final-New York Red Bulls at Sporting KC Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

On Monday, the first moves of the MLS Offseason came when Sporting Kansas City announced they weren’t picking up the options on four players and that two more (Erik Palmer-Brown and Cameron Porter) were out of contract. We’ll break it down move by move starting with the least shocking and moving towards the most.

Cameron Iwasa

Iwasa was seen as a low-risk, high-reward player and he simply didn’t pan out. In 2016 he played for the Sacramento Republic and scored 12 goals. He never played a single minute for Sporting KC but instead spent much of the season with the Swope Park Rangers, but only netted two goals in 22 appearances. Simply no room on the 30 man roster for a guy who doesn’t work in this system even at a USL level.

Soni Mustivar

Some may be surprised to see Mustivar as the second least shocking player on this list, but the numbers just don’t add up. Mustivar made $200,000 in 2017 and likely was due a raise with his option. He only played 260 minutes. 260! The emergence of Ilie Sanchez leaves no room for Mustivar. James Musa slides in as Ilie’s backup and Soni is gone.

Also, Mustivar definitely wants to be a starter and Peter Vermes has made it clear in the past that he won’t hold players back that want to move on. Mustivar was a serviceable starter but it’s best for both he and the team that he moves on.

Tyler Pasher

Pasher is likely a victim of simply getting signed to a SKC contract too soon. He’s still just 23-years-old but clearly the team didn’t see him as a part of the plan long term. He spent most of the season with the Swope Park Rangers, getting just 45 minutes with the first team.

With SKC he played on the wing and while 45 minutes isn’t enough time to judge him, he didn’t look ready. He probably deserved another chance, especially with how overworked the starters were. With SPR he mostly played left back before going back to left wing for the playoffs. He missed USL Cup with a concussion and the team suddenly had zero offense. If he wouldn’t have gotten the SKC contract it’s possible he leaves anyways, but he still seems like a guy with potential. Maybe a Canadian team will pick him up.

Kevin Oliveira

By far the most shocking move was giving up on Kevin Oliveira. He was playing at nearly the senior team minimum and he only got 16 minutes in the regular season (plus a few minutes in the US Open and MLS Cup Playoffs). Mostly Oliveira was with SPR all season and there is no mistaking that he didn’t look the same as he did in 2016.

That said, he just turned 21-years-old this summer. 21 freaking years old! Also, he is coming off a major knee surgery and missed a chunk of the season. It seems very likely that Sporting KC gave up too early. Benny Feilhaber is the only true attacking midfielder on the roster (and that’s even up for debate) and he will be 33-years-old by the time the season starts. Also, Feilhaber is out of contract after 2018.

Robb Heineman has stated Sporting will sign a new #10 but even then, who is the backup after Benny likely leaves after this season? Oliveira seems like a perfect fit for that role.

Ultimately, maybe Oliveira didn’t want to be around. That’s pure speculation but attacking players are often the biggest divas and in need of constant reassurance that they are wanted. Who really knows why Oliveira is gone, but it seems too soon.

These won’t be the last four players to leave the team. It seems highly likely that Kevin Ellis will be gone after his spat with the team late in the season. Plus with the signing of Jaylin Lindsey, there are a ton of right backs on the roster. A trade of Colton Storm or Saad Abdul-Salaam (the one with some true value) could very will clear some more space. The coming few weeks will go a long way in determining how this team looks in 2018.