Now that the season is over and manager Peter Vermes looks to update the Sporting Kansas City roster, it might be good to look at some potential MLS out of contract and free agent players to fill some spots.
Juan Agudelo, Forward
Last team: Minnesota United
Forward Juan Agudelo hasn’t quite lived up to his potential since he burst on to the scene with the New York Red Bulls and US National team years ago. However, that doesn’t mean he’s devoid of talent. Though he didn’t make an impact with the Loons, Agudelo could bring two great skills sets to Sporting KC: hold up play and versality. For much of his career, Agudelo has shown he is a strong and skillful forward who can hold up play and combine with the midfield. This is the most ideal for a backup forward in SKC’s system. That’s right, someone could finally challenge Khiry Shelton for backup forward minutes. Additionally, Agudelo has shown he can be versatile. Throughout his career he has played on the left and the right as well as a center forward position. Vermes has said in the past he loves players who are versatile and Agudelo seems to fit the bill. Maybe SKC could be the place he finally lives up to his potential? Even if he doesn’t, he instantly becomes the most lethal backup forward on the SKC roster as scoring is Khiry Shelton’s strong suit.
Is he affordable?
Last year Agudelo made just over $200,000. That’s a solid price for a backup forward with his skillset and should add some cheap depth to very light forward spots. If he’s asking for something similar next year, SKC has the funds to oblige.
Yamil Asad, Midfielder/Forward
Last team: D.C. United
Still in his prime at 27 years old, Yamil Asad can offer great skill, particularly at the left winger spot. Asad had great first season MLS season with Atlanta United in 2017 (7 goals, 11 assists) and another good season with D.C. United in 2018 (9 goals, 5 assists) and has faltered since then. However, I believe this is due to the way D.C. United plays and not all his own short comings. This past two seasons and this season in particular, D.C. United played extremely defensively (43% possession last in the league), regularly giving the ball to opponents, and playing most of their games in their own half. In fact, this season D.C. United were only the season team in league history to not record a shot on target in a regular-season match.
This play style doesn’t suit Yamil Asad’s game. Asad is a tricky winger who loves to run at opponents and combine with teammates. In essence, his game suits the possession style that SKC plays more so than D.C. United’s defensive counter attacking style. Yamil Asad could be just what the doctor ordered for Kansas City. He’s a starter quality player who can challenge Daniel Salloi and Johnny Russell for minutes on the winger positions. He is also the dead ball delivery threat that SKC desperately needs. Outside of Johnny Russell, SKC does not have a player who delivers consistently dangerous ball from set pieces, especially from corners. Too often this season did SKC waste corners and other set pieces and in fact did not score a goal from a set piece until the playoffs (see Isimat-Mirin’s goal against the Vancouver Whitecaps). As a supporter, I complained about the lack of depth and rest for the starters all season, signing Asad could remedy some of that.
Is he affordable?
This past season Asad made $542,667.00 in guaranteed compensation. He’s certainly pricier than Agudelo but would make less than Khiry Shelton who currently occupies a backup spot. Overall, I think he’s worth the money even if we sign him to a one-year deal with an option for more to see if he fits.
It's slim pickings in MLS free agency this year. Most teams’ available players are unproven young guys or out-of-prime old guys. What is available are few players that can add depth, something SKC desperately need. I have no doubts that manager/technical director Peter Vermes will hit on a few free agent signings as he normally does, but he could all consider Agudelo and Asad as depth options who are playing with something to prove. One hopes to prove there was merit to his hype at an earlier age, the other hopes to prove he is still the offensive threat he was when he first debut in the MLS.
Financially, there isn’t anyway these two signings wouldn’t work. With the off-season departures of Ilie, Puncec and others there’s a little under 2 million available to add depth. Of course, you would first need to convince these two to come and live in Kansas City (though I think it shouldn’t need any convincing) but neither were in the largest markets last season anyways. Let’s hope Vermes sees these two bargains in MLS free agency and takes a chance.
Are there other MLS free agents Sporting KC should take a look at? Comment below.