Sporting Kansas City’s run in the MLS is Back Tournament came to a flaming end last week but there is one KC team still playing lots of games. Sporting KC II played three times in eight days last week and as The Blue Testament’s Mike Kuhn pointed out to me today, they have used a great deal of their 23 man roster.
All but three players have an appearance in 2020 over just five games. The only players not to appear are jack of all trades Will Little (who is currently listed as OUT), new signing Bailey Sparks and Josh Chong, who is on an academy contract.
It’s fair to say their depth has been tested. And now with MLS on a break for at least a few weeks, it seems like the perfect time to loan some players to the second team who are in need of minutes. Now, often those loans in past seasons would happen for home games, but just two of their 16 games are at home in 2020 and one of those happened in March. The next best thing is a game in St Louis, of which SKC II just happen to have one on Wednesday.
Let’s take a look at who could benefit from a loan.
You had to know this was coming from the headline photo, right? Salloi got his first start (and the majority of his minutes) in the MLS is Back tourney in the loss to the Philadelphia Union. He came off in the 64th minute for Gerso Fernandes and to say Salloi was flat is a bit of an understatement. It unfortunately continues a run of form that swallowed the entire 2019 season where he scored just a single goal after winning the team’s 2018 golden boot award.
I personally think Daniel just needs to gain his confidence back. After 2018 many fans and pundits thought he’d be sold to Europe. Going into a slump like he’s been in can be tough. And with limited minutes in 2020 due to COVID-19, he just needs to knock a couple into the back of the net. His missed penalty kick against the Vancouver Whitecaps didn’t help.
SKC II also desperately need help on the wings of the attack. So far they just have Fredinho Mompremier, Enoch Mushagalusa and Jaret Townsend (a 2020 SKC draft pick) playing winger (and maybe a stray fullback here or there because of depth). They’ve each had their moments but Salloi (and other SKC first team players) would become immediate stars of the second team. And it’s not like the USL Championship is some sort of pushover. Salloi may find it tough to score in the second division as well. The league has improved drastically since the last time he played there.
This is a big name for the USL, but Reid just needs to get game minutes. He has been on loan with Sporting KC from Premier League side West Ham United since the 2020 preseason but he has only appeared in preseason games. His last first division game was March 3, 2018. Since then he’s had a series of injury and subsequent injury rehabilitation issues holding him back. He just needs to get on the field.
It’s tougher to do with SKC because no manager wants to burn a substitution on a center back unless there is an injury. Pre-planning to pull your starting CB (or put one on late) isn’t great, but it can be absorbed more easily in USL. If Reid can regain match fitness there is clearly space to break into a Sporting Kansas City back line that was up and down during recent tournament matches.
SKC II (or then, the Swope Park Rangers) have hosted first team players rehabbing injuries before, even big stars like Roger Espinoza. Reid would be the biggest name yet, but there is only one way to get match fit — play games.
Freeman was one of just two players (the other being third string keeper John Pulskamp) to not appear in the match day 23 man roster at any point during the MLS is Back tournament. He surely traveled with the team just as a potential injury replacement as the 17-year-old has yet to appear in a MLS game.
He played in 17 games for 850 minutes in 2019 for the Swope Park Rangers. And as mentioned above, the team could really use some help on the wings. Having Freeman and Daniel Salloi would suddenly make SKC II go from having one of the least potent attacks to one of the most potent attacks. Freeman can also play in the midfield (and he may be better there) but SKC II are also deeper in midfield.
The younger Duke brother did make his MLS debut in the final six minutes against the Philadelphia Union last week, but he needs to play a lot more. He just joined the first team last summer but he was injured at the time and hasn’t made a single appearance with the second team. He can play midfield (his best spot), right fullback or winger. All of those are potential areas of need for SKC II (the midfield likely being the least so).
A loan to SKC II would also give him a chance to play next to his big brother, former SKC draft pick and first team player, and the original Swope Park Ranger captain, Christian Duke. There is quite the age gap between the 29-year-old Christian and the 19-year-old Cam. It’s possible it’d be their first time to play together outside of maybe their backyard.
This one seemed like a no-brainer going into the season. Pulskamp had joined Sporting KC as their third string keeper, but he’d stay in USL to get minutes. That still has to be the plan but SKC II keepers 18-year-old Brooks Thompson and Saint Mary’s College alum Remi Prieur have more than handled themselves in net.
I still think Pulskamp has to go steal some minutes from the keepers (he’s only 19 himself). A shorter bus ride to St. Louis seems like the perfect time (and the team makes that trip three more times in this shortened season).
The 22-year-old just can’t get on the field with the first team! There is a strong argument to be made that he should be splitting minutes with starter Graham Zusi, but Peter Vermes clearly doesn’t see it that way as he rotted on the bench throughout the MLS is Back tournament. SKC II actually have two right backs on the roster in former Colorado Rapid Sam Raben and SKC Academy member Mason Leeth. Leeth has looked raw and Raben has been mostly solid defensively (but shown little going forward), but Lindsey is supposedly the future right back of the first team. Get him on the field!
Wan Kuzain Wan Kumal
Kuzain is another player who traveled to Orlando with the first team and was likely just there in case something went very wrong with injuries. Like Lindsey, he didn’t get off the bench. He has three years (two of which are team held options) left on his first team contract. 2020 will be the first year they can simply not renew his contract and part ways with him. SKC need to see what they have in Kuzain as a #6 to see if he has any chance to provide depth to or eventually replace Ilie Sanchez.
The fact that the team basically ran Ilie into the ground and when they finally subbed him they played Felipe Hernandez out of position, would seem to be a bad look for Kuzain. Play him at the #6 spot with SKC II and see how he fares. Sporting need to figure out what they have before his 2021 option needs to be decided on.
Undecided on Loans
There are other players who barely got onto the field with Sporting KC who could warrant a loan, but I’m much less sure about them. Felipe Hernandez looked like a world beater when he replaced Roger Espinoza against Real Salt Lake. Erik Hurtado may need a fitness run out since no one is getting Alan Pulido off the field. Maybe even Amadou Dia gets a run at left back to give Dillon Serna a rest. But none of those feel like sure things. Hernandez feels like the most likely, but he’s firmly cemented himself in the top five midfield spots for the first team with fellow Felipe — Gutierrez — out of the year.