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Blue Links: Gutierrez Goodbye, SKC & KC NWSL Preseason, MLS Expansion, Winston Reid

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Players leaving. Players coming? Teams leaving? And lots of preseason news.

Sporting Kansas City v Seattle Sounders FC Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

There was a lot of news over the weekend about Sporting Kansas City, KC NWSL and Major League Soccer in general that you may have missed. Let’s get caught up.

Gutierrez Says Goodbye

In what has been long rumored to be the case, Felipe Gutierrez appears to no longer be in Sporting KC’s plans. It was previously rumored that he was returning to Club Deportivo Universidad Católica (Chile) and that’s yet to be confirmed, but he did say goodbye in this cool farewell video. You’ll be missed Felipe!

SKC Preseason Plans Announced

A lot is still trying to be determined but Sporting KC unveiled their preseason plans for 2021. It includes their annual trip to Arizona (they leave Saturday, March 7th) and they have just four tentatively announced games (for now) with opponents and times to be determined. After a month in the desert, KC will return to the Midwest on April 4th in preparation for the season beginning on April 17th or 18th.

Here are the announced dates of the games:

  • Saturday, March 13
  • Saturday, March 20
  • Wednesday, March 24
  • Saturday, April 3

The Blue Testament has contacted the team and preseason will not be open to the media per MLS rules. Crushing news for the only SKC reporter on the ground in KC every preseason. The team will announce if any of the games are open to the public, but nothing yet has been confirmed.

Kansas City NWSL Preseason

Speaking of preseason, KC NWSL are currently in Florida deep into their preseason and they played a scrimmage against the Orlando FC Royals of United Womens Soccer. Kansas City crushed the Royals by a scoreline of 14-0. They’ll face a more serious test when they scrimmage against the Orlando Pride on Wednesday.

There is something very fitting about pounding in a team with the name Royals. I feel for Utah Royals fans, but KC fans are familiar with losing their women’s team because of the misdeeds of owners.

More Winston Reid Rumors

After spending the 2020 season on loan with Sporting Kansas City, Winston Reid returned to England, though he isn’t currently in West Ham United’s plans. There are new rumors he’ll either get a severance or mutually part ways with WHU in the summer, despite having a guaranteed contract through the summer of 2023 that is rumored to pay around $4.6 million a season.

That would have to be a heck of a severance package. Maybe he’s looking for stability, but he’s on loan at Brentford which is just across the city from WHU (and presumably Reid’s family which never joined him in KC). He could theoretically get loaned further away again and maybe that would lead to a parting of ways. Regardless, it’s hard to see him fitting in Kansas City’s budget and ending up back here.

Sacramento Republic Expansion in Jeopardy

Things are looking rocky in Northern California. Jeff Carlisle of ESPN is reporting that Sacramento’s bid to be the 30th team to join MLS in 2023 is indefinitely on hold. The primary investor, Ron Burkle, told the league he has “decided not to move forward with the acquisition of an MLS expansion team” partially because of COVID-19. He had missed a payment earlier in the process as reported in January by The Athletic. That appears to be the beginning of the end.

Your heart has to go out to Sacramento soccer fans as they were rumored to be ahead of other teams like FC Cincinnati and Nashville SC, who have already begun playing in MLS. This has to open the door to teams in Phoenix, Las Vegas and San Diego who have had strong expansion bids in the past.

Zusi Injury Recovery

Graham Zusi stopped by the Border Patrol and gave an interview (listen here) to Steven St. John and Nate Bukaty. He, of course, talked rehabbing the first serious injury of his career.

“In terms of rehab, everything’s been going extremely well,” Zusi said. “Throughout this entire process, I’ve either been on or ahead of schedule. My (physical therapist) and I are kind of thrilled with where I’m at right now. I can’t wait to get back on the field because it’s been a long time.”

As for that timeline, it was initially reported as four to five months. That was in late October. That means roughly five months would be the end of March. Preseason starts Sunday in Arizona. If he’s ahead of schedule he should be available for the start of the regular season. Maybe he’ll even be ready during preseason. It’ll be interesting to see between he and Jaylin Lindsey who wins the right back job.

He does go on in the interview to say he won’t be back until mid-April, so maybe the initial four to five months was overly optimistic. That should give Lindsey a head start on being the starter. It’ll be interesting to see who else plays right back in preseason as someone else has to be ready to go just in case.