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Community Discussion: Grading Sporting KC’s Offseason

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With our growing community of SKC enthusiasts at The Blue Testament, we want you all to weigh in on all things Sporting.

MLS: Western Conference Semifinal-Real Salt Lake at Sporting KC Amy Kontras-USA TODAY Sports

We here at The Blue Testament value the discussion our readers have and their opinions. With that in mind, we thought we’d try something new where we throw out an idea with the thought being the comments section will actually be what people come to read. Most everyone in the community that contributes regularly have pretty rational discussions and we wanted to highlight that.

While we don’t always agree (what fun would that be anyways?) we all tend to have interesting and thoughtful rationale on why we believe what we believe. With that, let’s get to it.

The first topic of discussion is how Sporting Kansas City have done this offseason heading into an important 2019 campaign that includes CONCACAF Champions League, the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup and of course, the condensed 2019 MLS regular season (and hopefully playoffs — they are letting in seven teams now per conference, no excuse to miss them).

For this discussion I have a few questions for you all. Feel free to answer as many of them as you see fit.

  1. What is the biggest loss of the offseason?
  2. What is the biggest addition of the offseason?
  3. What is the most underrated move of the offseason?
  4. What grade would you give Sporting KC so far?

So that it’s not me making you do all the work, I’ll weigh in (though I imagine I’ll add more in the comments as we go).

1. What is the biggest loss of the offseason?

I’ve already dedicated thousands of words to this one. Diego freaking Rubio. You should go read those stories to really grasp my opinion on the matter. In the simplest form, I think Rubio is worth more than Sporting got for him. Striker is a tough position to fill (see the 15+ month striker search). And Rowe appears to be quality depth for 2019 and maybe a future starter, but isn’t likely to help as much as Rubio would in 2019. Rubio looked like a likely starter.

2. What is the biggest addition of the offseason?

There are a few interesting choices here, but likely Sporting haven’t added any starters unless Wallace knocks it out of the park at left back, though we all know Seth Sinovic will win that job back like he always does (or maybe this is finally the year he doesn’t). I’m tempted to go with Rowe because he’s the most talented addition but I’ll go another direction. A long-term direction.

Tyler Freeman. The kid turns 16 on January 9th but he shows hope for the future and progress from the SKC Academy. I realize he won’t likely get many, if any, first team minutes, but I’m still excited for him. Tell me you won’t be watching the Swope Park Rangers to see this kid and Gianluca Busio combine for something amazing. The future looks bright. At least until they are sold for boatloads of money abroad.

3. What is the most underrated move of the offseason?

I suspect some will say the addition of Botond Barath, who could make Ike Opara expendable. But Peter Vermes seemed to walk back the whole, ‘I want you to consider trading me’ comments from Ike. Instead I’ll say Erik Hurtado. I suspect most people don’t expect much from him. He only has 12 goals in 105 league appearances (though he has at least three against SKC that I remember — two in CCL) but he could be Vermes’ new Khiry Shelton.

I don’t think people suspected Shelton would be the starting center forward when Sporting KC traded Saad Abdul-Salaam for him. The amount given up for Hurtado is even less. He’s not as tall as Shelton, but he’s strong, he’s fast as hell and he’s actually more goal dangerous. If Krisztian Nemeth falters in the CCL or preseason, don’t be surprised to see Hurtado in the starting lineup at center forward. I’m not sure what that says about prospects for Sporting’s success in 2019. But there is talent all over the field that can contribute to the attack.

4. What grade would you give Sporting KC so far?

GRADE: C

The list of players leaving are mostly guys way down the roster outside of Rubio and Shelton. But those two combined for the vast majority of the center forward minutes in 2019. Vermes might not value that position in the same ways as other coaches, but it seems pretty important.

The incoming players are interesting but mostly underwhelming lottery tickets. They could hit big, or they could all mostly ride the bench.

I truly suspect only two more players may be added before the season starts. Vermes seems to have someone targeted for January/February and whoever SKC take with their first round pick in the SuperDraft (though they made trade out or not even sign that player — who knows with the draft declining in importance).

Something should be said for keeping most of the pieces together from a great season in 2018 and I’m still optimistic for the year. It’s just that the league around Sporting seems to be getting better, faster than they are. Though, it should be said, Vermes admitted 2018’s success was a surprise and the plan all along with last years signings was to set things up for 2019.

A Little Help for your Comments

To help you, here are all the transactions Sporting Kansas City have done since the season ended.

IN

  • Kelyn Rowe
  • Tyler Freeman (technically he joins on 1/1/2019)
  • Rodney Wallace
  • Erik Hurtado
  • Botond Barath

OUT

  • Diego Rubio
  • Khiry Shelton
  • Kharlton Belmar
  • Amer Didic
  • Cristian Lobato
  • Brad Evans
  • Colton Storm

Alright, it’s your turn. I know you have strong opinions and about 20 of you contribute on a regular basis but 100s and sometimes 1000s of you read these stories. We want to hear your voices! And feel free to surprise us and say something that has nothing to do with a player.