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Sporting KC Players Out of Contract After the Next Loss (or MLS Cup)

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Up to 12 players could be free agents, but that’s a little misleading. We list everyone, plus update all the contract options for the entire team since some new deals were signed since our last story.

MLS: Sporting Kansas City at Orlando City SC Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

With Saturday’s first round playoff match-up between Sporting Kansas City and the Vancouver Whitecaps rapidly approaching it’s time for our annual reminder that the MLS offseason starts quickly. Just ask the already eliminated teams that have announced their roster moves.

Last year, no one probably thought it was the last hurrah for future Sporting Legend Matt Besler, who retired last week. It was also the last time Gerso Fernandez and Felipe Gutierrez were under contract with SKC. There are a couple other future Sporting Legends on this list with uncertain futures.

When we say the offseason starts quickly, sometimes it’s literally the next day these things are announced. Player options are picked up or declined. Expansion Draft protection lists (Charlotte FC arrive in 2022) are put out. And we just rapidly head towards the 2022 season.

Today seemed like as good of time as any to highlight the 12 (!) players who could potentially be gone. Now, they won’t all be. There are just four true free agents on that list, but turnover is inevitable. So whether we are dealing with this soon because of an upset loss to the Whitecaps, or we hold off until after MLS Cup on December 11th, we have to look before it’s all happened already.

First, let’s break the players down into categories. There are four players who have no contract options beyond 2021, meaning they are free agents when the offseason officially begins after MLS Cup, but those moves could be announced sooner if Sporting don’t advance that far. Then there are six player with options for 2022 and a remaining two with multiple option years left.

Out of Contract at Seasons End

Graham Zusi, Roger Espinoza, Graham Smith, Kendall McIntosh

Obviously I listed the first two names first for a reason. They are both future Sporting Legends. It’s hard to imagine they could be gone, but father time is undefeated. Graham Smith and Kendall McIntosh have gotten exactly zero minutes with the first team in 2021, but they’ve played extensively for the second team. Seeing how the roster is essentially* full and the team is carrying four goalkeepers, it doesn’t look great for them, but you never know.

*I say essentially because there are a bunch of mechanisms (like year long second team loans) and Tyler Freeman is technically on loan in Germany, but there are 30 signed players as of today.

Just a 2022 Contract Option

Ilie Sanchez, Jaylin Lindsey, Luis Martins, Felipe Hernandez, Roberto Puncec, Amadou Dia

This is quite the list. These players are out of contract after the season, but the team holds an option for the 2022 season if they choose to trigger it.

Ilie Sanchez has proved his worth, but he makes $1 million a season and he may not be a starter at defensive midfielder and he’s definitely not at center back (then again, I’m predicting the other two center backs on the roster to be gone and since Isimat-Mirin hasn’t stayed healthy, they’ll probably need him — and he’s the nicest human ever).

Luis Martins is both loved and hated, but I suspect he’ll be around as he’s played never every MLS minute available this year. Amadou Dia couldn’t unseat Martins for anything and in his most recent appearance he committed a horrific foul that could be the last time the 28-year-old sees the field (especially with young talents like Isaiah LeFlore and Nati Clarke lying in wait in the Academy).

Jaylin Lindsey is safe. He’s cheap and was playing well before his injury. Felipe Hernandez too. I can’t see the team walking away from him even if his controversy gives them the chance to (and he’s cheap and talented).

Puncec is surely gone. He can’t sniff the field and he’s making too much money to be possibly the fifth center back.

2022 and 2023 Option Years

Wilson Harris, Brooks Thompson

These guys are safe. Two young, cheap Homegrowns full of potential they haven’t had much chance to show.


Contract Options for the Entire Sporting KC Roster

Someone missing from above that you were sure is gone (or want to see gone)? Daniel Salloi got a new deal at some point during his down 2019 or 2020 season, which The Blue Testament discovered in a post-game press conference. But he, Tim Melia and defensive player of the year contender Andreu Fontas are all out of contract after 2022.

And if you recently discovered Kayden Pierre and are wondering how long he has to unseat both Zusi and Lindsey, it’s a long time (team control through 2025).

Here is the full roster for your browsing delights.

Sporting KC Contract Options

Name Position Status Joined Contract Expiration Option Years
Name Position Status Joined Contract Expiration Option Years
Graham Zusi RB 1/15/2009 2021 None
Roger Espinoza MID 1/6/2015 2021 None
Ilie Sanchez MID 1/13/2017 2021 2022
Jaylin Lindsey RB HG 1/1/2018 2021 2022
Graham Smith CB 2/15/2018 2021 None
Luis Martins LB INT 8/1/2019 2021 2022
Felipe Hernandez MID HG 8/30/2019 2021 2022
Roberto Puncec CB 12/4/2019 2021 2022
Amadou Dia LB 1/10/2020 2021 2022
Wilson Harris CF HG 10/21/2020 2021 2022, 2023
Kendall McIntosh GK 12/12/2020 2021 None
Brooks Thompson GK HG 1/20/2020 2021 2022, 2023
Daniel Salloi LW HG 1/13/2016 2022 None
Tim Melia GK 12/23/2014 2022 None
Andreu Fontas CB INT 8/8/2018 2022 None
Tyler Freeman FWD HG 1/1/2019 2022 2023
Cameron Duke MID HG 7/18/2019 2022 2023
Khiry Shelton FWD 12/9/2019 2022 2023
John Pulskamp GK HG 2/24/2020 2022 2023
Grayson Barber FWD HG 1/20/2020 2022 2023, 2024
Nicolas Isimat-Mirin CB INT 2/3/2021 2022 2023
Kaveh Rad CB HG 4/5/2021 2022 2023, 2024
Jose Mauri MID INT 8/5/2021 2022 2023
Johnny Russell RW DP 1/31/2018 2023 2024
Alan Pulido CF INT-DP 12/10/2019 2023 None
Gadi Kinda MID INT-DP 1/23/2020 2023 None
Remi Walter MID INT 12/22/2020 2023 2024
Jake Davis MID HG 8/19/2021 2023 2024
Ozzie Cisneros MID HG 1/20/2020 2024 2025
Kayden Pierre RB HG 5/4/2021 2024 2025

KEY

HG = Homegrown

INT = International Roster Spot

DP = Designated Player