Sporting Kansas City head coach Peter Vermes has said this offseason is about working to get two quality players at each position ahead of the 2019 season that will see them return to the CONCACAF Champions League. The expectation of where they need to add those quality players could be changing in the future though, as it was reported today that defender, Ike Opara, has requested that the team consider trading him.
Vermes has said that he’s not shopping anyone on the roster at the moment, but Vermes has always shown if the right deal comes along he’s not adverse to trading away a player that fans may see as a key piece to the team. In the past, Vermes has traded away Dom Dwyer and sold Oriol Rosell to Europe, along with other moves. So trading Opara away from Kansas City wouldn’t be completely surprising.
From reading the report though, this sounds less like a desire to move away and more like an attempt to get a new contract that pays him more. Opara signed a new contract with Sporting being for the 2018 season through the 2019 season with an option for the 2020 season. But since then, his center back partner, Matt Besler has also gotten a new contract, and Sporting have brought in another center back, Andreu Fontas, who according to the MLS Players Union salary numbers is making just under $1 million. Opara meanwhile made just under $350,000 in total compensation according to the players union numbers. So it’s understandable that Opara would look at those numbers and think he deserves a raise, especially as he knows he’s probably closer to the end of his career as a player than the beginning.
Vermes says Opara doesn’t want to leave, and in fact wants to finish his career in Kansas City, but the 2017 MLS Defender of the Year is obviously looking to make sure he’s paid like a former Defender of the Year as well.
If Opara were to depart it would leave Besler, Fontas, and Graham Smith as the only center backs on KC’s roster and likely force Vermes to try to find another player to come in and be that third center back. That’s going to likely be more necessary in 2019 with the reports of a more condensed schedule and more midweek games for teams, meaning more rotation is likely going to be needed to keep players fresh. With that in mind though a move seems unlikely unless a team comes in with a deal worth a bunch of TAM/GAM, in which case it might be extremely hard for Vermes to say no to it.