On Tuesday, just after our preview of the US Open Cup match came out, Sporting Kansas City confirmed something we could only speculate about. They will reach into their USL Championship roster and sign short term loans with two Swope Park Rangers.
The players getting the call are two players The Blue Testament speculated about in the preview. Midfielder and former SKC Academy member Felipe Hernandez and defender/midfielder and 2019 second round SuperDraft pick Camden Riley.
“Per MLS rules, clubs may sign players from their USL Championship affiliates to Short-Term Agreements (up to four-day contracts) for U.S. Open Cup, Concacaf Champions League and exhibition matches.”
Hernandez, who just turned 21 in the last week, is having a career year with the Swope Park Rangers. He has a team leading five goals and has been a professional since 2017 and played on an academy contract prior to that. Hernandez came to the Sporting KC Academy in 2014 when the team discovered him out of Nashville, Tennessee playing at one of their youth affiliates. He also spent time with the United States U-19s from 2016-2017.
Felipe Hernandez is a box-to-box midfielder in the vein of Roger Espinoza. He hustles like crazy, works very hard and is always popping up all over the field. And as is evident by his numbers, he has a good finishing touch as well. In his USL career he has 10 goals and nine assists.
Riley, who is just 22, was the 45th overall pick in the 2019 SuperDraft and the lone player from that draft to sign with Kansas City to any of their teams. Riley has played as both a center back and a defensive midfielder for SPR but it’s his ability at CB that likely earned him the call-up.
With Matt Besler nursing a hamstring injury, Andreu Fontas and Graham Smith are the only center backs that are likely to be available and 100% going into Wednesday’s game against Minnesota United. Riley would add an option off the bench, something the team didn’t have on Friday against Toronto FC.
If you asked for a prediction, Hernandez seems more likely to see the field as he’s got to be the closest player on SPR to earning a Homegrown contract (or contract of any sort) with the first team. However, Riley could also play if Fontas hasn’t 100% recovered from his nagging injuries and the team wants to give him an extended rest heading into the FIFA break.
Wednesday’s game is available exclusively on ESPN+.
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