With Sunday’s first round playoff match-up between Sporting Kansas City and the San Jose Earthquakes rapidly approaching it dawned on me it could be the last time we see some of these players in Sporting Blue. When a team is eliminated the offseason ramps up quick. Player options are picked up or declined. Expansion Draft protection lists (Austin FC coming in 2021) are put out. And we just rapidly head towards the 2021 season.
So now seemed like a good time to highlight the contract situations of the 15, yes 15, players who are technically out of contract when the 2020 season comes to an end. Whether that’s Sunday against San Jose or much later, after MLS Cup on December 12th.
First, let’s break the players down into categories. There are six players whose contracts end after the 2020 season with no option to extend pre-built in. There are five players who just have an option for 2021 and another four that have an option for 2021 and 2022.
Out of Contract at Season End
Matt Besler, Roger Espinoza, Winston Reid, Gerso Fernandes, Erik Hurtado and Richard Sanchez
That’s a couple Sporting Legends, another starting center back and the team’s possibly best depth pieces at wing and striker. Of course all those deals can be negotiated and new contracts can be signed but almost assuredly, some will be gone. We talked to Matt Besler and Roger Espinoza about the possibility that 2020 was their last year back in preseason.
Just a 2021 Contract Option
Johnny Russell, Felipe Gutierrez, Daniel Salloi, Graham Smith, Erik Dick
Any of these five players could play their last game at the end of 2020, but the team holds contract options on them. So the team simply has to pick up the players option and they’ll be around for 2020. Outside of maybe Erik Dick, it’s hard to imagine any of these guys not coming back unless Gutierrez’s injury is much worse than expected.
2021 and 2022 Contract Options
Gianluca Busio, Felipe Hernandez, Amadou Dia, Wan Kuzain
Much like the other group, hard to see anyone beyond maybe Kuzain not getting picked up. Lots of young and/or cheap talent in this pool.
Don’t see a player listed that you were sure was gone after 2020? Not so fast Andreu Fontas and Graham Zusi haters. You’ll have to go back to the list from before the 2020 season, which is mostly still accurate outside of players like Gadi Kinda, who had his loan option picked up and is signed through 2023.