While at the first preseason game of the season, The Blue Testament caught up with several players, including all three of Sporting Kansas City’s draft picks from the 2019 MLS SuperDraft.
All three players were excited to get out on the field for the first time. They all played in the third 30-minute shift, mostly alongside SKC Academy kids, Swope Park Rangers, and trailist and MLS veteran Daniel Johnson.
Second round pick Camden Riley lined up at defensive midfielder, which he indicated is his preferred position, though he maintained an openness to play where he’s needed. At the draft he told TBT’s Ben Gartland that he’s already been watching Ilie Sanchez and Graham Zusi and that he could play defensive mid, center back and even right back.
Off camera, Riley and I discussed his play and he said he felt comfortable on the field and he looked it as well. By my recollection, he only had one bad touch and thankfully it went harmlessly out of bounds. Otherwise he was composed even as Eric Dick delivered him some passes in tight spots as the team tried to play out of the back.
First round pick Kamar Marriott and third round pick Franky Martinez both lined up at center back but they both expressed comfort in playing in other spots. Marriott said he’s also a defensive midfielder while Martinez indicated he played in a three back system in college and is comfortable in any of those positions as well as both wing back spots.
Future Swope Park Rangers?
Although all three players have only been in camp for a few days, the question on many people minds is if these players have a legitimate chance to make the first team. After the signings of Tyler Freeman, Rodney Wallace and the trades for Erik Hurtado and Kelyn Rowe, there are just four roster spots left on the senior team. In recent Sporting KC history, only the first round picks have found their way into first team contracts. In 2018 it was goalkeeper Eric Dick and center back Graham Smith. In 2017 it was fullback Colton Storm who already finds himself out of a job.
That could be the same in 2019, or it’s possible that even Marriott could struggle to get a contract. Also, Marriott wasn’t a projected first rounder, though many analysts thought SKC’s second round pick, Riley, would go in the first. It’s hard to imagine Sporting using up two spots again on rookies with the desire to stay flexible if players become available and with the team indicating they will be adding someone in the future.
The good news for the team and possibly for these draft picks, is that all three are open to signing contracts with the Swope Park Rangers. Riley was enthusiastic about that prospect and Marriott and Martinez were open to it as well.
It will be interesting to see what the team does. The Rangers just have nine players on their roster right now and they are particularly shallow on the defensive side of the ball. Here is hoping all three of these guys at least get second team deals.
I’d like to apologize for the amatuer camera work, interview skills and the fact that the Phoenix Rising Soccer Complex is right by Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport. That said, the audio is still pretty dang good despite the occasional airplane, so enjoy.