Sporting Kansas City arrived in Scottsdale, Arizona over the weekend for the start of preseason and a new name was listed on the players in camp. Former Chicago Fire midfielder Daniel Johnson is listed as being on trial with Sporting KC.
Johnson is a two-year Major League Soccer veteran. He was taken with the 11th overall pick in the 2017 MLS SuperDraft by the Fire. He spent both MLS seasons in Chicago and played in 15 games over that time (three starts). He’s not yet scored or assisted, but he’s played just 386 minutes.
Johnson’s Career MLS Stats
Johnson had his option declined by the Fire after the 2018 season. He joins many MLS SuperDraft alums who are already out of work just two seasons after the 2017 draft. Fellow draftee, Colton Storm, who was Sporting KC’s 14th overall pick in that same draft, also had his option declined.
Daniel Gibson Johnson is a native of Duluth, Georgia but actually came up in the West Ham United youth system before coming back to the United States to go to college. He started his collegiate career at the University of Maryland (alma mater of Graham Zusi). After two years, he moved to the University of Louisville where he showed vast improvement. At Maryland he barely got on the field, but at Louisville he made 41 appearances (all starts) and scored seven goals while adding five assists.
Transfermarkt lists him as an attacking midfielder but most other places refer to him as a winger. There is definitely more room on the Sporting KC roster for a winger than a midfielder.
Midfield Depth Chart: Roger Espinoza, Felipe Gutierrez, Ilie Sanchez, Gianluca Busio, Kelyn Rowe, Yohan Croizet, Wan Kuzain Wan Kamal, Tyler Freeman, (maybe) Jimmy Medranda
Winger Depth Chart: Johnny Russell, Daniel Salloi, Gerso Fernandes, Croizet, Freeman, Rodney Wallace (though the team lists him at left back) and maybe Erik Hurtado and Krisztian Nemeth (but they are likely the top two center forwards)
You can see a path to the roster for Johnson in a wing spot if he impresses in preseason, especially for one of those last spots vacated by the likes of Kharlton Belmar. There are four roster spots left and Sporting KC have three unsigned draft picks, most of whom are probably more likely to sign with the Swope Park Rangers than SKC. That could be the fate for Johnson as well, though no doubt he’ll be looking to continue his professional soccer dream at the highest level possible.
For more on Johnson, read this fantastic piece in FourFourTwo from ahead of the 2017 draft to learn some background on his time in London with West Ham as an eighth grader (alone) in England. It sounds like he has talent and since he’s still only 23-years-old, time isn’t up on him quite yet.
Other Players in Camp with KC
Of course the entire KC roster is there, including injured and rehabbing Jimmy Medranda. In addition there are several SKC Academy and Swope Park Rangers joining Sporting for preseason. Four Rangers made the trip: midfielders Felipe Hernandez (20) and Will Little (20), left back Justin Bilyeu (24) and forward Wilson Harris (19). All but Bilyeu played in the SKC Academy.
Speaking of the SKC Academy, five youth players made the trip too. Midfielder Sean Karani (18), who played sparingly for SPR last year. Joining him are midfielders Jake Davis (17) and Tucker Lepley (16), along with defender Mo Abualnadi (17) and goalkeeper Brooks Thompson (16).
Finally all three unsigned SKC 2019 MLS SuperDraft selections are on hand in Arizona. First round pick, center back, Kamar Marriott (22), second round pick, midfielder/defender, Camden Riley (22) and finally third round pick, center back, Franky Martinez (23).
The Blue Testament will bring you more coverage of the offseason and preseason as SKC head towards the start of the regular season and CONCACAF Champions League. Their first scrimmage is Friday against fourth division side Sporting AZ (formerly the Arizona Sahuaros).