CHICAGO — Kamar Marriott, Sporting Kansas City’s first pick in the 2019 MLS Superdraft, was not even in attendance in Chicago as SKC selected him with the 21st pick in the first round. The 6-foot-4 defender/defensive midfielder out of Florida Gulf Coast University did not attend the MLS Combine and did not appear on many mock draft lists. But Sporting KC’s pick reflects the changing landscape of roster construction.
“I think there was a time when the combine and the draft were an incredibly important aspect of building a roster every year and I think those times have changed,” Sporting KC head coach and technical director Peter Vermes said. “That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t scout or know who the players are but it has a different importance as we move forward.”
Vermes said that they had not talked to Marriott immediately before drafting him but he had been on their radar.
“Our staff had a good connection,” he said. “Alec Dufty (Sporting KC’s goalkeeper coach) had worked with the player and we had a good idea from that. We also saw him play a few times so he’s on our list and we felt that, where we were in the draft, he could become available and I think a lot of teams were looking at him for the second round but for us we knew that there were a few guys that would fall to us. He seemed like the pick at that moment.”
Going into the MLS Superdraft, Vermes had said that he felt good about the overall state of the Sporting KC roster, particuarly at the starting positions. He said he was searching mostly for depth but did put an emphasis on strengthening the defensive midfield and the front line.
“We like the fact the fact that (Marriott) has played as a defensive midfielder, which means he can move the ball pretty well,” Vermes said. “We like to play out of the back, so having a player that has the confidence moving around the ball like he does but also is extremely athletic, we need that.”
Vermes gave no indication on the likelihood that Marriott would be signed to a professional contract with the club (either with Sporting KC or the Swope Park Rangers) but reiterated that he was building up the depth of the roster and that Marriott fit into the needs of the club.
“We feel like we need another (defensive midfielder) to play in Champions League,” he said. “We have so many competitions and the fact that the season is shortened is going to put a lot more games in the middle of the week. So we’re going to have to have a strong roster—two teams essentially.”
“The great thing is, we also have our B team for guys to get experience as well. It’s not they’re stymied with someone playing in front of them the entire time.”