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Sporting KC 2020 Year in Review: Roberto Puncec

The defender with the most minutes in 2020 gets his year reviewed.

SOCCER: DEC 03 MLS Cup Playoffs Western Conference Semifinal - Minnesota United FC at Sporting KC
Sporting Kansas City defender Roberto Puncec (4) handles a high ball off his foot in the first half of the MLS Western Conference Semifinal between Minnesota United FC and Sporting KC on December 3, 2020 at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, KS.
Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

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 the main starting center back for SKC for 2020 — Roberto Puncec.

2020 Stats

Games Played (Started): 20 (18)

Minutes Played: 1,675

Goals: 0

Assists: 1

xG (expected goals): 0.19

Positions Played: Right Center Back

2019 Salary: N/A - Not in MLS

2020 Salary: Unknown

Contract Through (Option Years): 2021 (2022)

Best Moment of 2020

Just being a regular starter for Sporting KC in central defense. He had 18 starts, which was the best of any field player on the team at any position. Graham Zusi was the closest defender (14) and Matt Besler was the closest CB (9). Winston Reid had eight (10 counting the playoffs), Graham Smith had 4 and Andreu Fontas had three (all the numbers are regular season and leave out MLS is Back elimination games and the playoffs unless otherwise noted).

Worst Moment of 2020

The entire playoffs. When you are the regular starter in central defense and your team allows six goals in two games, that’s a bad look. There was plenty of blame to go around, but Puncec is far from innocent.

Interesting Stat

15. Roberto Puncec started the last 15 straight game (and played all 90 minutes) for Sporting KC to end the season. That’s 13 regular season games and two playoff games. Johnny Russell started 10 of the last 11 (12 of 13 counting playoffs) which was the closest comparison. With such a congested schedule, the ability to play so much was an asset to KC, even if it all ended in flames in the playoffs.

Fan Vote Results

Keep: 83.8%

Release/Sell: 16.2%

It often seemed that Puncec was out of position on plays this season, but it could be him overcompensating for the mistakes of others (leading to his own mistakes). He was new in the system and 2020 was a very weird year. It’s not surprising that fans are looking forward to him coming back, though noticing him just being guaranteed through this year leaves SKC some flexibility. It’ll be interesting to see if he’s a starter or if he becomes a depth piece. Simply having a more stable set of players around him will probably go a long way towards success in 2021.