Shortly after Sporting Kansas City announced they had signed Rodney Wallace as a free agent, they made a second move of the day. Sporting KC executed a trade with the Vancouver Whitecaps for forward Erik Hurtado. In exchange for the 28-year-old forward SKC sent their 2021 first round pick from the MLS SuperDraft along with their 2020 second round pick.
The deal comes as former Swope Park Rangers head coach Marc Dos Santos is cleaning house in Vancouver. Earlier in the week the team team made several other moves that saw them move on from Kei Kamara, Kendall Waston and Spencer Richey as well as bringing in Andy Rose, Maxime Crepeau, Victor Giro (PC) and Zac MacMath.
The move has to be looked at as a low risk for Sporting KC. They give up a second round pick not this year but next, when most second rounders don’t even make the team. And they give up a first round pick three drafts from now. While in the past draft picks were very important, they’ve declined in value dramatically in recent years. 2017’s first round pick, Colton Storm, is already off the team after just two season and zero minutes in league play. 2018’s picks primarily played for SPR (Graham Smith and Eric Dick). By 2021 who knows if the draft will have any value. Honestly, who knows if it does now outside of the top couple of picks.
In return for those picks, they get back an MLS veteran in Hurtado who can play both center forward and winger. In his six Major League Soccer seasons, all with Vancouver, Hurtado has 105 appearances (47 starts), 4,713 minutes, 12 goals and 10 assists in league play. He also famously scorched Sporting KC in the 2016-17 CONCACAF Champions League where he scored two goals and ultimately put the Caps through to the next round and eliminated SKC in group play. Here are his career MLS stats (all with the Whitecaps).
Erik Hurtado MLS Stats
In 2015 he spent part of the year on loan with Norwegian first division club Mjondalen where he made 11 appearances in league play, one appearance in their dometic cup and scored a single goal.
Hurado recently had his option picked up for 2019 and he has one additional option year left on his contract for 2020. In 2018 he made just $156,250. He’s likely due for at least an annual minor bump up in salary for 2019 and 2020. That’s still pretty low for a player that can play all across the front line for a team that will be in need of depth with a condensed schedule in 2019 along with extra games due to CCL.
In Vancouver, the team often played a different style than Sporting, relying on fast break counters. Hurtado isn’t short on speed, however, potentially because of that play style, he had a bit lower passing accuracy at just 70.1 percent. Compare that to Diego Rubio at 78.6% and Khiry Shelton at 80.5% and he’ll need to improve to fit the system. The change in system alone could do that. Interestingly, WhoScored.com, where I pulled those passing stats from, lists Hurtado as “weak” at holding on to the ball and Shelton as “very weak.” So at least that’s an upgrade. To his credit, Rubio is listed as having no weaknesses.
Hurtado is just 5’10” tall (similar to Rubio’s 5’11”) but height doesn’t equal the ability to win headers (see: Shelton, Khiry).
The offseason is only just getting started but the team is up to 25 players already. More moves are likely coming as SKC still hold four draft picks in the 2019 MLS SuperDraft (the 21st pick in each round). It’s possible only the first round pick will even have a realistic shot at making the team. There are also possibilities that players leave and of course more additions are likely, even if it’s just positional depth.