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Sporting KC 2019 Year in Review: Graham Smith

We continue our look back at 2019 with our fifth defender of the week (it’s a theme!) — Graham Smith

Sporting Kansas City v Los Angeles Galaxy Photo by Michael Janosz/ISI Photos/Getty Images

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 the player I share a last name with — Graham Smith.

2019 Stats*

Games Played (Started): 11 (10)

Minutes Played: 882

Games Suspended: 0

Goals: 1

Assists: 1

xG (expected goals): 1.32

Positions Played: Center back

2019 Salary: $57,225.00

Contract Through (Option Years): 2019 (2020. 2021)

*All stats from 2019 MLS regular season unless otherwise noted.

Best Moment of 2019

Goals probably get too much attention but he scored a delightfully lucky game winner against the San Jose Earthquakes on August 17th. He was in the right place and he just put it home. That probably accounts for why his xG is high since he was so close when he tapped it in. That shows he had other chances he didn’t finish (though I remember him being awfully close on set pieces several times).

Worst Moment of 2019

How can it be anything else other than the 2-7 loss to the LA Galaxy on September 15th? I was in the Roaddron and it was a miserable experience to witness live. All the action was at the other end of the field and I just couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Tactically it probably goes on Peter Vermes a little bit for leaving Smith alone against Zlatan Ibrahimovic a little too much. But Smith made some blunders I don’t think anyone could account for.

Interesting Stat

20. That’s the number of goals given up in games where Graham Smith was a starter (just 10 starts remember). Seven of those came in his above mentioned final start against the LA Galaxy (he only saw the field for SPR after that). The team as a whole was horrendous on defense (stop me if you’ve heard this). The team allowed a club record 67 goals against. Smith may be no more to blame than basically any of the others.

Fan Vote: Keep, Banish or Wait

Keep: 65.6%

Banish: 15.3%

Wait: 19.1%

Smith came in 5th in the “keep” category for defenders behind Lindsey, Martins, Besler and Barath. However, this poll came before he crapped the bed in one of his final USL Championship games with the Swope Park Rangers where the team allowed eight unanswered goals against Louisville City FC. The vote did come five days after the seven allowed goals against the LA Galaxy though. I’d be interested to see how much this voting would change if we did it again today. I suspect it would trend lower.

I’m firmly in the “keep” camp because of his cheap contract and the likelihood that he’s just fifth on the CB depth chart behind a hypothetical new CB signing. However, after some uninspired performances down the stretch for SKC and SPR, I wouldn’t be surprised for KC to decline his option and look elsewhere.