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A Look at Where KC’s Roster Stands as the First Stage of Preseason Ends

A break down of Sporting KC’s roster as they close out the first stage of preseason in Arizona.

MLS: Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Sporting KC Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The first stage of Sporting Kansas City’s preseason is nearing its end in Scottsdale, with that the club will likely be making decisions on some of their unsigned players and players that won’t be with the club in 2018. With that in mind here’s a look at where Sporting’s roster currently stands and where the club is at with about a month to First Kick against New York City FC.

The big thing to remember with regards to the roster right now is that Kansas City does not have to meet any of the roster requirements from MLS yet. KC does not have to be compliant with the roster rules until the compliance date meaning the number of players under contract, internationals under contract, or Designated Players do not have to meet requirements until then. Last year that date was March 1st, so I’d expect a similar timeline with year for the compliance deadline. As of this moment, KC currently has 28 players under contract on their roster with another four drafted players currently in camp with the team. That number is a little misleading though, as two of the players that are currently under contract, Kevin Ellis and Soony Saad, are currently being shopped by the club trying to find a trade partner for the two players. The expectation is that neither player will be with the club in 2018, leaving Kansas City with 26 players under contract. That would make four roster spots available to Sporting KC to use to continue to build the roster.

As of right now, Kansas City is compliant with the league’s international players rule which allows each team to start with eight internationals (the spots can be traded). Kansas City has not traded any of their slots so they have all eight available to use. As of right now the club has six internationals under contract for 2018; loan signing Emiliano Amor, new DP Yohan Croizet, Cristian Lobato, James Musa, Johnny Russell, and homegrown signing Daniel Salloi. Other players, like Gerso Fernandes, Jimmy Medranda, Diego Rubio, and Ilie Sanchez all have their green card and do not count as internationals. Amer Didic is a bit of a different case as he qualified as a domestic player when he was signed because of a new rule that made Canadians who spent time in certain Canadian academies able to be domestic players in the US. All that leaves Kansas City with two open international slots to use to continue to fill the roster. It also leaves space open for Felipe Gutierrez, who the club is reportedly working to sign for the 2018 season.

Gutierrez signing though would require KC to do some shuffling with their roster elsewhere. Currently Kansas City have four designated players on their roster, Croizet, Fernandes, Roger Espinoza, and Graham Zusi. The club also has Matt Besler who is paid over the maximum cap number but is paid down so he doesn’t count as a DP. Before the roster compliance date, without any further signings, KC will have to pay down one of their four DPs using their GAM/TAM (General Allocation Money or Targeted Allocation Money) to be in line with the league’s rule of three DPs. If KC were to acquire Gutierrez they would have to pay down a second of their current DPs to fit him in. If club ever signs that mythical number 9 that the club has talked about all offseason, and he’s a DP, they would have to pay down another of their DPs. That’s something that has mentioned that the club would do if they needed to, to make the team better. With all the GAM/TAM that they’ve acquired over the last six months, plus the new influx from the league, KC should be able to use some of that to pay down current DPs.

The part of the roster to keep an eye would be the senior roster and the players who make the supplemental/reserve roster. The senior roster takes positions one through 20 on the roster. The team is only required to fill 18 of those 20 roster spots and can leave spots 19 and 20 open if they want to spend their salary budget on those 18 players instead. The supplemental roster are players 21-24 and the reserve roster is 25-28 with spots 29 and 30 only available to homegrown players and fall under the reserve roster requirements. Supplemental roster players must earn the senior roster minimum ($65,000 in 2017) while reserve roster players can make the minimum roster salary ($53,000). Reserve roster players must also be under the age of 24. Of the 26 players KC currently has under contract (again Ellis and Saad are removed from these numbers) if guesses can be made on where players fall on the roster. As of right now a guess would be that KC have 16-17 senior roster players; Amor, Besler, Croizet, Andrew Dykstra, Espinoza, Fernandes, Lobato, Medranda, Tim Melia, Ike Opara, Rubio, Russell, Sanchez, Khiry Shelton, Seth Sinovic and Zusi with James Musa being a question of where he falls. Depending on that make up, KC has nine or ten supplemental and reserve spots filled with all five homegrown players (Gianluca Busio, Matt Lewis, Jaylin Lindsey, Salloi, and Zach Wright) in that group along with Kharlton Belmar (supplemental roster due to his age), Didic, Colton Storm, and Adrian Zendejas (again with Musa as a supplemental roster player if he’s not on the senior roster).

That leaves Kansas City with one to four senior roster spots open depending on if they went with 18 or 20 senior roster players and potentially one supplemental/reserve roster spot. That would seem to point to KC being unlikely to sign more than one of their 2018 Superdraft picks. If the reported interest from other teams in Eric Dick is as high as Peter Vermes said, Dick could be signed to Sporting KC in the last supplemental roster spot and have Musa on the senior roster. The other option if KC wanted to keep their first pick in this year’s draft would be to loan Dick to the Swope Park Rangers for the year. MLS rules allow for one player under the age of 25 to be loaned to a USL affiliate for an entire year and the loaning of that player allows for roster and budget relief. Dick could be that sort of signing for KC and then leave the other roster spots open for other potential additions to come. The other three draft picks, Graham Smith, Will Bagrou, and Wilfred Williams all seem more likely to sign directly with Swope.

With the way, the roster is set right now there would appear to still be some room for maneuvering (especially after the situations with Ellis and Saad are resolved) as preseason continues. There is still some work that needs to be done before the team is required to be compliant with the roster rules, but overall, they appear to be in a good position in that regard. They appear to still have a couple senior roster spots open if they want to use them and potentially at least one supplemental roster spot open to use.

Here is a look at all the players under contract as of right now.

Sporting KC’s Roster

Name Position Status Joined Contract Expiration Option Years
Name Position Status Joined Contract Expiration Option Years
Matt Besler CB 1/15/2009 2018 None
Graham Zusi RB DP 1/15/2009 2018 None
Kevin Ellis CB 2/18/2011 2018 None
Seth Sinovic LB 11/28/2011 2018 None
Ike Opara CB 12/12/2012 2019 2020
Jimmy Medranda CM 8/9/2013 2019 2020
Tim Melia GK 12/23/2014 2020 2021
Roger Espinoza CM DP 1/6/2015 2018 None
Daniel Salloi LW INT-HG 1/13/2016 2018 2019, 2020
Diego Rubio CF 3/8/2016 2018 2019
Adrian Zendejas GK 12/2/2016 2018 2019, 2020
Andrew Dykstra GK 12/22/2016 2018 None
Gerso Fernandes RW DP 1/4/2017 2019 2020
Ilie Sanchez CDM 1/13/2017 2018 2019
Colton Storm RB 1/13/2017 2018 2019, 2020
Soony Saad LW 1/30/2017 2018 2019
Amer Didic CB 5/31/2017 2018 2019, 2020
Cristian Lobato LB INT 6/29/2017 2018 2019
James Musa CDM INT 8/11/2017 2018 2019, 2020
Gianluca Busio FWD HG 8/25/2017 2020 2021, 2022
Kharlton Belmar FWD 9/15/2017 2018 2019, 2020
Jaylin Lindsey RB HG 1/1/2018 2021 2022
Khiry Shelton FWD 12/14/2017 2018 Unknown
Yohan Croizet CAM INT-DP 12/15/2017 2020 2021
Zach Wright FWD HG 1/17/2018 2018 2019, 2020, 2021
Emiliano Amor CB INT 1/18/2018 2018 Option to Buy
Matt Lewis CB HG 1/22/2018 2018 2019, 2020, 2021
Johnny Russell LW INT 1/13/2018 2020 2021