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FIFA 18: Sporting KC Simulation - Part II

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Now for the second part our 2018 MLS season simulation (minus LAFC).

MLS: MLS Super Draft Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome back for Part II of our 2018 MLS Season FIFA 18 simulation. You’ll really want to start by reading Part I as none of this will really make sense if you don’t know the rules and limitations we (and the game) have put on us.

Preseason

Let’s get to some soccer. In the vein of the Desert Diamond Cup and Mobile Mini Sun Cup, Sporting Kansas City just had to go to MLS preseason. We were invited to three different tournaments, but one made the most sense. It was call the “Invitational Cup” and featured other MLS clubs like the Portland Timbers, New England Revolution, Real Salt Lake, Colorado Rapids, Columbus Crew and Orlando City. All of those teams outside of Orlando have been to Tucson for preseason in the past, so we’re pretending that’s where this went down. Club Atlas, from Liga MX, was also invited.

Sporting KC drew Atlas first and pulled out a 2-1 win behind Yoah Croizet and Felipe goals. Off to a good start. After this game the Columbus Crew made an offer for $940,000 for Kevin Ellis (obviously FIFA doesn’t know they probably wouldn’t give up $50K of GAM/TAM in MLS to get him). I promptly accepted.

The second game, against the Timbers, didn’t go as well. SKC lost 2-0 and Khiry Shelton got hurt (minor concussion — if there is such a thing). Weirdly the Chicago Fire also made a $940,000 offer for Ellis. I countered at $1.03 million (his value is $875K in the game) and they accepted too. Who know Ellis was in such demand?

Next we played the New England Revolution (and Krisztian Nemeth) and won 4-1 on a Gerso hat-trick. That moved us to the semi-finals against the Crew. Before that game Ellis agreed to a deal with the Fire, but since it’s out of the window, he’ll be with the team until July (see below). The tourney would end with the crew as Red Card Roger got thrown out of the game and Federico Higuain scored 12 minutes later for a 1-0 win. Espinoza got a two game suspension too so the foul must have been bad. Punch in the face?

Transfer/Scouting Update

My basic strategy for scouting is that I’m behind a typical team so I’m going all in on strikers. I scouted everyone I could get my hands on. David Villa popped up and he would meet the definition of a Designated Player but that felt like cheating (and no way SKC would spend $11 million plus that NYCFC were asking for).

I also scouted a bunch of free agents which means I could sign them outside the transfer window. That would be good since FIFA starts you in February and the transfer windows are all closed (they adhere to a strict Jan 1st - Jan 31st and July 1st through Aug 31st). So even though in real life the MLS window is open, it’s not in FIFA. So it’s free agents or wait until July.

I also scouted free agents at other positions so I’d have options to make signings if injuries got out of hand. And you know Vermes loves a good out of contract player.

Nemeth popped up to scout so of course I did. He’s a 72 in the game and valued at $3.6 million. That’s a four point upgrade over Rubio. Come summer, it must be considered.

Training and Academy Updates

Jaylin Lindsey already climbed from a 62 to 64, Salloi from 68 to 69 and Medranda from a 70 to a 71.

I got aggressive in Academy signings and signed five guys after only one month of scouting (which I never typically do). Mostly all misses in terms of immediately contributions the highest being a 61 rated CB that’s only 15. The potential on all the signings were between the mid 70s and mid 90s, so if this simulation continues, it could really work out (if I don’t get fired before then).

Regular Season Starts

The schedule is the 2017 regular season but with 2018 rosters. Fun! The team got off to a 1-1-2 start before Tim Melia picked up an injury in training. The team only had two keepers so we had to dip into the free agent pool. Only two GKs had popped up, both rated 69 (better than Zendejas). We ended up with Canadian Milan Borjan who last played for Red Star Belgrade in the Serbian SuperLiga. He went 2-0-0 before Melia returned.

After seven games Sporting had 12 points (and had won their first US Open Cup game against San Jose) and were in second place. Things were good, but Rubio had just a single goal so Salloi became the new CF and Medranda took Lobato’s left back job (several games earlier). At this point Gerso led the team in scoring with six goals in all competitions.

A few games after Melia’s return, he broke his ankle and was set to be out seven weeks. Ouch! SKC had climbed to first in the table but went cold after the Melia injury. They suddenly couldn’t score and were bleeding goals. Things got worse from there. Gerso picked up a knee injury that would keep him out three weeks. He was the teams leading scorer at this point with eight goals (as of May 29th).

By the midpoint in the season, Sporting had crawled back into a tie for first in the Western Conference with the Seattle Sounders. In the Supporter’s Shield race they were tied for 2nd with Seattle but a massive 13 points behind first place Orlando City (hmmm).

The midseason stats in all competitions were as follows:

  • Goals: Felipe, Gerso (8), Russell (5), Medranda, Salloi, Croizet (2)
  • Assists: Felipe (5), Croizet (4), Opara, Gerso, Russell (2)

Player Improvement/Academy Update

At the midpoint several players had made jumps in stats but the biggest by far was Jaylin Lindsey from a 62 to 69. Medranda and Salloi went up three each as well. The Academy had climbed to nine different players. The best three are 15-year-old CB Moritz Schuster (66), 16-year-old GK Jose Kerr (63) and 15-year-old LW Benjamin Guerrero (61). No one has been promoted yet to the first team but Kerr is already ranked higher than Zendejas and the other two would likely be the first or second off the bench when they are 16.

Here are the full stat improvements at mid-year:

SKC Roster Progressive - Mid Year

Name Rating Mid-Year Change Position(s)
Name Rating Mid-Year Change Position(s)
Ike Opara 75 76 1 CB
Gerso 75 75 0 RW, LW
Felipe 75 75 0 CM, CAM, LM
Matt Besler 74 74 0 CB
Tim Melia 74 74 0 GK
Jimmy Medranda 70 73 3 LB, CM, RW, LW
Ilie 72 72 0 CM, CDM
Yohan Croizet 71 72 1 RM, CAM, ST
Graham Zusi 71 71 0 RB
Roger Espinoza 71 71 0 CM, CDM
Daniel Salloi 68 71 3 ST, LW
Johnny Russell 70 70 0 RW, LW, LM
Cristian Lobato 69 69 0 RM, LM, CM, LWB
Diego Rubio 68 69 1 ST
Jaylin Lindsey 62 69 7 RB
Seth Sinovic 67 66 -1 LB, RB
Kharlton Belmar 64 64 0 RW, LM
Khiry Shelton 63 64 1 RW, RM, ST
James Musa 63 64 1 CDM, CM, CB
Emiliano Amor 63 63 0 CB
Matt Lewis 62 63 1 CB
Zach Wright 60 61 1 RW, LW, ST
Adrian Zendejas 59 60 1 GK
Colton Storm 58 58 0 RB, LB
Amer Didic 54 55 1 CB

Roster Moves

By reaching the mid-point in the season I suddenly had players who were about to be out of contract who I had to re-sign or risk losing on a free transfer. They were Cristian Lobato, Khiry Shelton, James Musa and Colton Storm. I decided to only re-sign Lobato and risk letting the others leave since they lacked quality (based on FIFA’s stats) and could easily be replaced with free transfers.

Part III will bring the transfer window and conclusion to the season. This simulation is taking a lot longer than I would have anticipated and therefore is getting stretched a bit longer. Imagine if I was managing the minutia of Football Manager (someone should do that — just not me).