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Recapping the Sporting KC Offseason

Who’s in? Who’s out? And where did they go?

Chivas v Queretaro - Torneo Apertura 2019 Liga MX Photo by Alfredo Moya/Jam Media/Getty Images

The 2019 MLS season ended for Sporting Kansas City way back on October 6th against FC Dallas. It was a brutal 6-0 defeat and since then three months have passed. For comparison the 2018 season ended on November 29th. In 2019 the preseason began on January 18th. That was just a 50 day gap. We are already up to 90 days and preseason is still likely a few weeks out. Sporting KC don’t even arrive in Scottsdale, Arizona until January 19th and they won’t play as early this year without CONCACAF Champions League to prepare for.

With still several weeks to go until they take the field again trying to right the wrongs of 2019, it seemed like a good time to look back on the offseason so far.

The last move the club made was on December 10th when they signed Designated Player Alan Pulido via a record transfer fee for the club (and it’s pretty high league-wide as well). Since then, radio silence. Expect things to pick up shortly.

New Arrivals

Richard Sanchez - GK (Chicago Fire) [25-years-old]

Sanchez was acquired via the Re-Entry Draft. He previously played for the Chicago Fire and allowed 51 goals over 27 appearances and amassed a 7-14-6 (W-L-D) record. He’s expected to compete with Eric Dick for the backup goalkeeper spot.

Salary: $152,500 (2019)

Contract: Believed to be just for 2020.

Roberto Puncec - CB (HNK Rijeka - Croatia) [28-years-old]

SKC allowed 67 goals in 2019. Improvements needed to be made along the back line. So far, this is the only signing.

Salary: Unknown. However, there was no mention of him being a Targeted Allocation Money (TAM) signing, so he likely makes under the salary budget max ($530,000 in 2019).

Contract: Through 2021 with an option for 2022.

Khiry Shelton - FWD (Paderborn 07 - Germany) [26-years-old]

Shelton is familiar to SKC fans as he played here during the very successful 2018 season. He should be battling Erik Hurtado for the backup center forward spot but he could also find himself playing out wide as he did with New York City FC at times.

Salary: Unknown. In 2018 he made $119,745 though he likely got a raise.

Contract: Through 2022 with an option for 2023.

Alan Pulido - CF (Chivas Guadalajara - Mexico) [28-years-old]

The most recent signing, but surely the signing of the most significance. Expectations will be high for Pulido. If you need more information on the most expensive signing in SKC history, we’ve got a page dedicated to all his stories including a scouting report from Mexico, where his signing ranks all-time in MLS history, that time he escaped from kidnappers in Mexico and much more.

Salary: Unknown. He’ll definitely make over the $530,000 budget max as a Designated Player but he’ll likely exceed the TAM threshold of $1.5 million per season as well. My money is on him being the highest paid player on the team. That honor currently goes to Felipe Gutierrez ($1.65 million in 2019).

Contract: Through 2023.

Player Departures

Jimmy Medranda - CM/LB/LW (New Club: Nashville SC) [25-years-old]

Medranda was the 10th and final player selected in the 2019 MLS Expansion Draft. He was taken by Mike Jacobs of Nashville SC. Jacobs previously worked for Sporting KC. While losing him for $50,000 in General Allocation Money (GAM) sounds bad, in reality, he was part of the trade for Adrian Zendejas.

Salary: $155,004 (2019)

Contract: 2020 Option Year

Adrian Zendejas - GK (New Club: Nashville SC) [24-years-old]

Zendejas was traded to Nashville SC immediately after the Expansion Draft. The deal was reported as being for $50,000 in GAM, $125,000 in TAM and a 2020 international roster spot, the reality is Medranda was considered part of this package.

Salary: $70,250 (2019)

Contract: 2020 Option Year

Seth Sinovic - LB (New Club: New England Revolution) [33-years-old Jan 28th]

Sinovic’s option was declined on November 21st. He spent nine seasons with the club and presumable Peter Vermes doesn’t want him stealing his job back from Luis Martins. He would be 33 by the start of the season so moving on makes some sense, though there is a hole at backup left back. He has 245 starts in club history. The case can be made he is a Sporting Legend.

Salary: $143,000 (2019)

Contract: 2020 Option Year

Benny Feilhaber - CM (New Club: None Yet) [35-years-old on Jan 19th]

Feilhaber also had his 2020 option declined on Nov 21st. He was set to make significant money in 2020 and be 35-years-old. Feilhaber had a solid season upon returning to the club in a trade from the Colorado Rapids, but he would be in the way of lots of talented midfielders trying to get on the field (and he’s an expensive backup). It’s unclear if he plans to play in 2020 at this point.

Salary: $463,400 (2019)

Contract: 2020 Option Year

Gedion Zelalem - CM (New Club: Maybe NYCFC) [23-years-old on Jan 26th]

Zelalem was the final player to have his option declined. He made just nine appearances for SKC in 2019. While his 2019 salary was very low, it was reported he was due a substantial raise if his 2020 option was picked up. Apparently Vermes saw enough to know he wasn’t worth that much money (or simply wasn’t a good fit). The former United States youth international has been linked to New York City FC (though they just permanently acquired Keaton Parks, so that might not work out).

Salary: $77,916 (2019)

Contract: 2020 and 2021 Option Years

Krisztian Nemeth - CF (New Club: None Yet) [31-years-old on Jan 5th]

Nemeth started off red hot in his return to SKC but he completely disappeared after his goal on May 18th against the Vancouver Whitecaps. He would go 134 days before scoring again which sealed his fate to not be brought back. It was initially believed he had an option for 2020 but I and others misreported that information and he was simply out of contract and easy to move on from.

Salary: $1,063,666 (2019)

Contract: Out of Contract

Rodney Wallace - LB (New Club: None Yet) [31-years-old]

He played just 27 MLS minutes and made way too much to do it. Enough said.

Salary: $360,000 (2019)

Contract: Out of Contract

Nicolas Hasler - RB (New Club: None Yet) [28-years-old]

His status as an international and likely being third on the right back depth chart pushed him off the team. The case can be made he was the best right back on the roster in 2019. If he could just get a green card he’d probably stop bouncing from team to team in MLS.

Salary: $183,666 (2019)

Contract: Out of Contract

Kelyn Rowe - CM/Wing (New Club: New England Revolution) [28-years-old]

While Rowe was traded way back on August 7th to Real Salt Lake for $75,000 in TAM and an international roster spot, it’s worth a reminder he’s gone. Ironically, he returned to the club he was dissatisfied with in the Revolution. They do have new coach Bruce Arena and Rowe has reason to believe things will be different.

Salary: $326,399 (2019)

Contract: Out of Contract

Yohan Croizet - CM/CF/LB/Wing (New Club: None Yet) [28-years-old on Feb 15th]

Croizet was also gone before the season ended after he and the club mutually agreed to part ways on September 23, 2019. He was spotted back in Kansas City in December so of course fans thought he could return. And honestly, as Jimmy Mack said on No Other Pod, if he was signed as a non-DP/TAM level player to a budget friendly deal, you could do worse (backup LB, CM, winger and even CF). Clearly, there was talent there, it just never was fully realized in KC.

Salary: $730,008 (2019)

Contract: Guaranteed through 2020 with a 2021 option before mutually terminating the deal.

What’s Next?

The club still has five open roster spots. That includes two international spots as they acquired an additional spot in the Adrian Zendejas trade with Nashville SC mentioned above. Vermes indicated he would add at least one player on all three lines. The only line yet to be addressed is the midfield. Roger Espinoza is out of contract at the end of the season. He could be brought back but the team has to be thinking about his long-term replacement.

In addition the team needs a backup left back as Luis Martins is the only official LB on the roster. Jaylin Lindsey has played there in the past but he is expected by many to compete for the starting RB job. The team is without Sinovic, Wallace, Croizet and all the other cast of characters that have played there in recent years, so an addition seems likely. American Soccer Analysis has Graham Smith listed there as the backup, but that is either a gross misunderstanding of the position or them needing to simply fill the slot on their graphic.

Preseason is just around the corner. The full schedule is likely to be out this week and the team will report to Scottsdale, Arizona on January 19th through February 1st (though they’ll likely meet in KC in the coming days) before coming back to AZ from Feb 8th through the 22nd. The Visit Tucson Sun Cup will run from from Feb 15th through the 22nd and the MLS regular season kicks off on Saturday, February 29th against the Vancouver Whitecaps.

For a further look back at 2019 be sure to check out our Year in Review series that covered every single player from the year gone by as well as many interesting stats from the year.

Head to the comments and let us know what positions are still needs for you and what you are looking most forward to in preseason.