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 our Halloween edition look at the frightening Hungarian Hitman (™ by Dan Kooser of No Other Pod) — Botond Barath.
Games Played (Started): 21 (20)
Minutes Played: 1,749
Games Suspended: 0^
^Barath would have gotten his yellow card accumulation suspension after the final game of the year but instead he’s fined as they don’t carry over to 2020.
xG (expected goals): 0.95
Positions Played: Center back (primarily on the right)
2019 Salary: $297,333.41 #
# Ike Opara made just $367,916.71 in 2019 (though he reportedly got a big raise). How is that for more salt in the wound?
Contract Through (Option Years): 2020 (2021)
*All stats from 2019 MLS regular season unless otherwise noted.
Best Moment of 2019
Scoring a goal before Daniel Salloi. Too soon? This probably isn’t really his best moment, but I couldn’t resist. Against Minnesota United on September 25th, Botond opened his MLS account (Salloi got his goal four days later against the Portland Timbers). In preseason I thought he’d be more of a scoring threat on set pieces. He was flying through the air with many near misses. Maybe that all came down to the (poor) level of competition for most of preseason.
Worst Moment of 2019
When he played pretty dang good in preseason. How is this a “worse” moment you may be wondering? Well I’ll tell you. I believe that when Botond showed up and looked dang good in preseason, that opened the door for Kansas City to trade Ike Opara. They felt they had three good center backs (Besler, Fontas and Barath) and could afford to part with Opara. How wrong that proved to be (that’s no knock on Barath, he’s a perfectly capable as a third CB).
20 starts. Barath was really the third center back on the depth chart heading into 2019. He ultimately got more starts than would be starter Andreu Fontas (10 starts, 13 appearances, 964 minutes). But he was a jump up in minutes and games from the “third” center back in prior years.
In 2018 Emiliano Amor had five appearances, three starts and only 332 minutes before he was sent packing. In 2017 Erik Palmer-Brown had 10 appearances, seven starts and 641 minutes. In 2016 the third CB is probably Lawrence Olum and he led the team in CB starts (17), appearances (19) and minutes (1,469). Besler and Opara were both injured or out of form (or both). It’s probably best when the third CB doesn’t need to play.
As a further point of comparison to argue it’s not good when CB depth is on the field, Graham Smith was the fourth (or arguably fifth before Abdul Rwatubyaye was traded) CB and he had 11 appearances, 10 starts and 882 minutes. Nearly as much as Fontas. Not ideal.
Fan Vote: Keep, Banish or Wait
Barath was the fourth highest “keep” defender behind Lindsey, Martins and Besler. Realistically that could be the starting back four on Day 1 of the 2020 season (though I suspect Graham Zusi keeps starting if he’s around). Fontas is injured and very likely won’t be ready to go, so the door could be open for Botond. However, I, along with many others, likely hope a more athletic CB is added to the roster between now and then. Missing Opara showed how important that skill is to the defense.
For the record, I don’t really think Botond is scary. I’ve met him and he’s a perfectly nice human. But if you don’t know him and you ran into him in a dark alley, you might be a bit scared.