The offseason keeps plodding along in Major League Soccer. Starting today, Sporting Kansas City and the now 25 other MLS teams will have a chance to pick up players through the Waiver
Draft Process and on Tuesday the first stage of the Re-Entry Draft Process will take place (MLS has stopped calling them drafts).
There is a robust list of available players, many with some big names (and big contracts to go along with them). Mark Baehr and I attempt to find some diamonds in the rough that could fit with Sporting KC.
Danilo Acosta - Left Back - Real Salt Lake (Waiver Process)
2019 Salary: $110,000.04
Mark Baehr: A young (22) domestic left back whose Homegrown status moves him off budget. He fills a clear need for SKC at low cost, with high upside. The risk is his attitude: he managed to get himself in Mike Petke’s doghouse and was practically never heard from again. Of course, someone at odds with RSL should find themselves at home in Kansas City. And lest anyone forget, in 2016 SKC passed over Cristian Roldan because of his behavior at the combine and picked . . . Connor Hallisey. So you can judge for yourself how valuing personality over performance paid off.
Derrick Etienne Jr. - Forward - New York Red Bulls (Re-Entry Process)
2019 Salary: $82,062.56
Chad Smith: Etienne turns 23 today and he enjoyed a breakout year in 2018 (five goals, one assist in just 961 minutes across five starts and 11 appearances). 2019 was a down year and he was ultimately loaned to lowly FC Cincinnati. He still couldn’t break into the lineup there (just 219 minutes). His father played nationally for Haiti but Etienne would not take up an international spot as he’s a dual citizen. He would be inexpensive depth at center forward and winger and he could spend his time with Sporting KC II if all goes well for the guys ahead of him in MLS.
Cameron Lindley - Defensive Midfielder - Orlando City (Waiver Process)
2019 Salary: $98,906.25
MB: A Homegrown defensive midfielder from Chicaco, Lindley refused to sign a contract with the Chicago Fire, thus demonstrating clear good sense. On the other hand that ended up resulting in his being traded to Orlando, who are one of the few organizations who can outmatch Chicago in mismanagement, so you might say that move backfired. Another off-budget domestic player with good potential, Lindley registered seven assists (one vs the Swope Park Rangers) and scored one goal in 2,050 minutes played in the USL Championship for expansion side Memphis 901.
Greg Ranjitsingh - Goalkeeper - Orlando City (Waiver Process)
2019 Salary: $70,250.04
MB: I also expect SKC to pickup another keeper at some point. One interesting option is Greg Ranjitsingh, a 26-year old keeper released by Orlando. He played for Louisville both times they won the USL final, and looked decent in limited MLS minutes, but was most likely cut due to his requiring an international slot. Of course SKC could simply loan him down to USL if they ever found themselves short of international roster slots, so it could work. Domestically, Jeff Caldwell (New York City FC) is an option in the waiver draft, though I’d probably wait for the Re-entry draft to pick Cody Cropper for a reclamation project.
Cody Cropper - Goalkeeper - New England Revolution (Re-Entry Process)
2019 Salary: $77,519.52
CS: I’ll steal this from Mark. Sporting KC will definitely be in need of a backup goalkeeper to ride the pine while Eric Dick is on loan with
the Swope Park Rangers Sporting KC II. Cropper had a rough stretch of three games on a then bad Revolution team where he allowed 13 goals (four against SKC). He never saw the field again for New England and was clearly out of favor with Bruce Arena. He’s no world beater, but he’s a cheap, domestic back-up who hopefully wouldn’t have to actually take the field as he sits behind Tim Melia.
Re-Entry Draft Process Stage 2
After today’s Waiver Process and tomorrow’s Re-Entry Process Stage 1, there will be a whole week that goes by before the second stage of the re-entry process on December 3rd. The main difference is that a club can renegotiate the contracts of the players that are picked. I’m not sure specifically what the rules are around cutting wages, but there are a lot of overpaid guys that would be great additions at a lower salary.
These guys are really only worth considering at a much lower salary. All the below choices are a bit of a stretch and are unlikely to join SKC.
Oriol “Uri” Rosell - Midfielder - Orlando City (Re-Entry Process)
2019 Salary: $522,499.92
CS: Uri is probably the most likely of these three listed. Ilie Sanchez was Uri 2.0 according to Vermes. If PV has the chance to bring Uri back to be a dependable backup (and allow Felipe Gutierrez to play further up the field), this is a no-brainer (at a reduced wage). Uri is only 27 and he already basically knows the SKC system (even if he last played there in 2014). Plus, the fans love when old favorites return.
Update: Well that rumor is dead before it had any life. Rosell re-signed with Orlando.
Cristian Higuita - Midfielder - Orlando City (Re-Entry Process)
2019 Salary: $611,662.67
CS: Yet another Orlando player (maybe this is a bad idea getting players from a bad team). I’ve always been a Higuita guy. He’s another defensive midfielder and he plays very fiery. He’ll be 25 in December but he saw his minutes dwindle in 2019 (partly due to Rosell joining OCSC). While he is Columbian, he doesn’t cost an international spot. He’d be an alternative back-up option for Ilie who still has lots of potential.
Joao Plata - Winger - Real Salt Lake (Re-Entry Process)
2019 Salary: $856,254.00
CS: Even though he plays for RSL, I’ve always liked Plata. The Ecuadorian doesn’t count as an international and, even though he’ll be 28 in March, he still brings speed for days on the wing. He’s scored 49 goals in his MLS career though he just had one in 305 minutes last year. At a greatly reduced wage, he’d be a good MLS depth option if Vermes looks to fill in on the wing without going overseas. He also has 48 assists in his MLS career.
If Chad Were Picking...
I’d go with two of Mark’s picks. Acosta has a good deal of MLS experience for someone so young and he seems like a good risk/reward play. Since Sporting KC declined Seth Sinovic’s option and let Jimmy Medranda escape in the Expansion Draft, left back is a big need behind presumptive starter Luis Martins.
The other 22-year-old Lindley seems to fall into that category too. Cam would mostly only cause Wan Kuzain to potentially fall down the depth chart. If they can battle it out and prove who is the more worthy Homegrown defensive-mid, that doesn’t seem like a bad thing. You have to fill the bottom of the roster with cheap guys anyways.
The Waiver Process starts at 2:00 PM CT today. The teams pick in reverse order of this years MLS standings with Nashville going 25th and Miami 26th. The Re-Entry Process Stage 1 starts at 2:00 PM CT on Tuesday, November 26th with Stage 2 running on Tuesday, December 2nd at 2:00 PM CT as well. For the full offseason schedule, head over here. The Blue Testament will keep you informed on if Sporting KC make any moves in these
drafts processes or otherwise.