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End of year roster moves for SKC make some hard cuts

Fan favorite Ilie Sanchez’s contract option was declined

SKC declined the contract option on Ilie Sanchez and several others
Thad Bell

The end of a season is almost always hard, just two days after bowing out of the MLS Cup Playoffs, Sporting Kansas City announced their end of season roster moves.

Starting with the positives, Sporting KC exercised contract options for Felipe Hernandez and Jaylin Lindsey for the 2022 MLS season. Both Homegrown players will return next season and have a chance to re-establish themselves.

SKC declined contract options for Amadou Dia, Wilson Harris, Luis Martins, Roberto Puncec, Ilie Sanchez and Brooks Thompson. Defender Graham Smith is out of contract with the club.

Three players that are out of contract began discussions after the season with the club. Roger Espinoza, Kendall McIntosh and Graham Zusi, could return if both sides agree to a new contract.

Sporting KC now has just 20 players under contract for the 2022 season.

Sporting KC players under contract in 2022

Goalkeepers (2): Tim Melia, John Pulskamp

Defenders (5): Andreu Fontas, Nicolas Isimat-Mirin, Jaylin Lindsey, Kayden Pierre, Kaveh Rad

Midfielders (7): Ozzie Cisneros, Jake Davis, Cam Duke, Felipe Hernandez, Gadi Kinda, Jose Mauri, Remi Walter

Forwards (6): Grayson Barber, Tyler Freeman, Alan Pulido, Johnny Russell, Daniel Salloi, Khiry Shelton

The two biggest holes to fill....

Ilie and Luis Martins were regular starters for SKC. Ilie bounced between defensive mid and center back in 32 games (29 starts) while Martins played in ever MLS game for SKC. With Dia’s option declined it is obvious SKC will be looking for left backs somewhere.

While Ilie bounced between spots, there was not a clear replacement for the Barcelona product. Remi Walter spent some time in the “6” and Jose Mauri was thrust in to starting there as soon as he was eligible to be on the field with little (or zero) practice time.

The Blue Testament will take more looks at these roster moves in depth.

More moves ahead

There will be signings and new players arriving but there are specific MLS scheduled roster-building events that will take place over the next few weeks, including the 2021 MLS Expansion Draft. Teams can protect 12 players from being selected by expansion club Charlotte FC. Homegrown players are automatically protected. Charlotte may select up to five total in the draft.

Sunday, Dec. 12: Half-day trade window (8 a.m. to 12 p.m. CT)

Tuesday, Dec. 14: MLS Expansion Draft (time TBD)

Wednesday, Dec. 15: End-of-Year Waivers (12 p.m. CT)

Wednesday, Dec. 15: Free Agency opens (12 p.m. CT)

Friday, Dec. 17: Re-Entry Process, Stage 1 (12 p.m. CT)

Thursday, Dec. 23: Re-Entry Process, Stage 2 (12 p.m. CT)

Tuesday, Jan. 11: 2022 MLS SuperDraft presented by adidas (time TBD)

Sporting KC II

Sporting Kansas City II also announced their end of season roster moves. Defender Aljaz Dzankic and midfielder Jahon Rad agreed to contracts with SKC II in 2022, while forward Enoch Mushagalusa is in contract negotiations with the club. SKC II is also in discussions with Isaiah LeFlore, who was on an academy contract with the club in 2021.

Sporting KC II declined contract options for Matt Constant, Petar Cuic, Ropapa Mensah, Jamil Roberts and Rojay Smith. Danny Barbir, Christian Duke and Remi Prieur are out of contract with the club.

Seven players competed for Sporting KC II on amateur academy contracts in 2021 that are age-eligible to play with the Sporting KC Academy: Mataeo Bunbury, Daniel Gutierrez, Dylan Hooper, Coby Jones, Michael Lenis, Zion Long and Jayvin Van Deventer.

Gavin Krenecki, Bailey Sparks and Max Trejo were also on amateur academy contracts in 2021 and have left the club to begin their college soccer careers.

Sporting KC II has begun its head coaching search for the 2022 season after Paulo Nagamura left the club earlier this month to pursue other professional opportunities.

With SKC II moving to the MLS U-23 league for 2022, different roster rules will apply so it will be almost as interesting to see how the club builds that roster as it is what moves are made for the first team.