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Sporting KC 2020 Year in Review: Graham Smith

No relation. I don’t think.

MLS: Sporting Kansas City at Colorado Rapids
Commerce City, Colorado, USA; Sporting Kansas City midfielder Graham Smith (16) controls the ball in the second half against the Colorado Rapids at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The 2020 MLS season has come to an end and much like we did in 2019 for Sporting Kansas City, it’s time to look back at how each player performed. Keep in mind the stats look diminished for many players, but just 21 regular season games were played in this COVID shortened season (instead of the typical 34). For the full list of players reviewed, head to our dedicated Year in Review page.

The Blue Testament continues our look back at 2020 with a solid depth piece that simply can’t seem to fully breakthrough — Graham Smith.

2020 Stats

Games Played (Started): 4 (4)*

Minutes Played: 315*

Goals: 0

Assists: 0

xG (expected goals): 0.09

Positions Played: Center Back (primarily on the right)

2019 Salary: $57,225

2020 Salary: Unknown - But likely at or slightly above 2019.

Contract Through (Option Years): 2021 (None)

*This leaves out the extra two starts and 180 minutes against Philadelphia and Vancouver in MLS is Back.

Best Moment of 2020

That 2-0 shutout against Real Salt Lake in MLS is Back. Prior to that the last time Graham Smith had stepped on a field for an MLS game was that 2-7 shellacking from Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the LA Galaxy in 2019. Good to get that out of your system and earn a clean sheet.

Worst Moment of 2020

Getting benched. At halftime of the September 2nd game against FC Dallas, Smith would be pulled from the lineup never to return. There were 14 more games played between the regular season and postseason. What was so bad about Smith’s performance that he couldn’t at least get a spot start on a mediocre defense? Obviously we don’t know what is going on outside of our view (practice, other factors) but it would seem he could have possibly helped.

Interesting Stat

Three. That’s the total goals allowed in his four MLS regular season starts. Admittedly I’m manipulating the numbers to leave out MLS is Back where that number doubles when you add those two games. Though, in the Philadelphia Union game, two of the three goals were on counters from corner-kicks, which is hardly Smith’s fault. So leaving those out (which I think is more than fair) shows four goals allowed in six starts. Not too shabby.

Bonus stat: The team’s record in his six starts, 3-1-2. People seemed surprised that Smith’s contract option was picked up for 2021, but I’m not. He’s a quality backup in MLS that is pushing harder than anyone probably would have predicted to break through to being a consistent starter.

Fan Vote Results

Pick up 2021 Option: 61.0%

Decline 2021 Option: 33.3%

Pick up 2021 Option and Sell: 5.7%

Graham Smith will probably never start for Sporting KC on a consistent basis. And he’s another player that was probably hurt by not getting consistent minutes in USL with SKC II. However, he’s at or near the league minimum salary and one more year to see if he can earn another contract seems pretty reasonable. He just turned 25 in November and defenders tend to play much longer than attacking players. He’s nearing his prime right now. Maybe he’ll suddenly take that next step. If not, he was an inexpensive and somewhat experienced backup.