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Sporting KC Opting Not to Sign Striker

Salloi and Hurtado ahead of schedule for return.

MLS: Sporting Kansas City at Colorado Rapids Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

One topic that deserves more attention is something that Sam McDowell reported Sunday morning.

“Sporting KC looked into acquiring another striker while Erik Hurtado and Daniel Salloi have battled injuries, leaving the team thin at the position. But Salloi is closer than expected to a return, already running without pain in his ankle. Hurtado is expected to beat his initial 2-3 month prognosis after knee surgery. Sporting KC opted not to make a swift move to sacrifice the long-term.

Emphasis mine.

Despite the lack of a true third center forward on the roster behind Krisztian Nemeth and the injured Hurtado, Sporting Kansas City will not be adding another player at this time, though that doesn’t preclude a move later in the year.

Sam goes on to say that, “for now, that leaves options such as [Gianluca] Busio, Yohan Croizet and teenager Tyler Freeman to play the No. 9.”

Busio at the #9?

That definitely isn’t the first time we’ve heard it. Peter Vermes indicated back when he was signed, much like Tyler Freeman, he can play all four attacking positions (both wings, CF and attacking midfielder).

After Busio’s fantastic performance on Sunday, it seems odd to consider playing him out of position. So far in his career, Busio has received all his minutes at the more forward midfield spots. He has scored in back-to-back MLS games and he probably should have had an assist if not for Kelyn Rowe’s botched shot from deep inside the box.

Busio does seem a bit undersized to playing striker, though, it would likely be as more of a false 9.

Yohan the Striker

Since Nemeth has almost not left the field this season, Sunday was the first time we’ve had a chance to see a prolonged effort from Croizet at center forward. It didn’t go perfectly, but he put in a good shift and made the defense work hard. He even had a few fantastic touches that show how much he is improving.

With Salloi apparently quite close to a return, and Croizet’s ability to fill in admirably, it seems logical that SKC not panic and sign someone just for the sake of making a move. That said, they should definitely be looking potentially for a summer move or for a player that can play the wing and center forward.

The team depth has really been tested in 2019 with Kelyn Rowe, who all through preseason said he’s a midfielder, already has two starts on the wing (once on the left and once on the right). Rowe is clearly not a natural winger and with the apparent injury to Rodney Wallace, emergency winger depth is in question (though the Wallace move puts LB in the same boat).

Salloi’s Injury

The fact that Salloi is back running just two weeks after it was reported he’d be out six weeks is a very good sign. There are no breaks in the schedule but CCL will almost certainly let up assuming Sporting KC are officially eliminated on Thursday. With any luck the backups and Swope Park Rangers will fill out that lineup and Salloi missing for a bit longer won’t be a crushing blow. No CCL could also mean there is no need to rush Salloi into the lineup, assuming of course, no one else gets hurt. That seems to be a very big if at this point. Plus, based on Croizet’s performance at CF, Salloi is probably more needed on the wing and than in the middle anyways.