The 2019 MLS season is one Sporting Kansas City fans will be looking to forget. But with a very long offseason ahead that may not have soccer until March (assuming no MLSPA strike), we feel compelled to look back at the good and the bad from 2019. For the full list of players reviewed, head to our dedicated Year in Review page.
The Blue Testament continues our look back at 2019 with a fan favorite — Johnny Russell.
Games Played (Started): 28 (24)
Minutes Played: 2,115
Games Suspended: None
xG (expected goals): 5.43
Positions Played: Primarily RW but he spent time at LW, wide midfielder (when SKC were playing with 10 or less men) and a tiny bit of CF.
2019 Salary: $1,449,999.96
Contract Through (Option Years): 2020 (2021)
*All stats from 2019 MLS regular season unless otherwise noted.
Best Moment of 2019
On May 26th against the Seattle Sounders, Russell put in a magnificent performance netting himself a hat trick in a 3-2 win. For the second straight year, Russell got a hat trick (last year it was against the Vancouver Whitecaps). It padded his goal numbers a bit as he had stretches of inconsistency as well as injury and international duty in 2019.
Worst Moment of 2019
Russell was on the field for both drubbings that Sporting KC suffered this year (7-2 to the LA Galaxy and 6-0 to FC Dallas). However, knowing Russell, being injured and missing a good stretch of games was probably really tough on him. Through a combination of injuries and international duty, Russell missed all of June and the first game in July. That’s five straight games. The team went just 1-2-2 during that stretch.
Russell’s last goal of 2019 came on August 31st against the Houston Dynamo. Then he would leave for international duty and miss the Portland Timbers came (a 2-1 loss). He started the final five games but didn’t find the back of the net during SKC’s desperate attempts to make the playoffs. To be fair to him, he did have two assists during that stretch.
Fan Vote: Keep, Banish or Wait
Russell garnered the most votes of any player on the team to return in 2020. It seems unlikely the team would move on from him. He and Felipe Gutierrez will make up the “new core” in my opinion, as the previous players are aging out of those roles. What will be interesting to see is if both of them want to come back, especially if the team continues to struggle. Hopefully they will give it at least one more season to see if Peter Vermes can right the ship.