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A Look at Sporting KC’s 2021 Contract Situations and Options

There are some talented players with deals up at the end of the season.

MLS: Sporting Kansas City at Colorado Rapids
Spoiler alert, here are two of the players out of contract.
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

While it’s only the middle of May, it’s never too early to start thinking about the future. Or worrying about the future. In sports, roster turnover is rampant. Sporting Kansas City and Major League Soccer are no different. Teams just naturally make moves to try to get better, younger, cheaper and so on.

In 2020 alone, long-time Sporting KC veterans Matt Besler, Felipe Gutierrez and Gerso Fernandes all moved on (among others). The end of 2021 will be no different. That’s why it felt like time to look at exactly who on this roster is out of contract after the season (and look at the entire roster for that matter). Plus, we tracked down some missing contract data that hasn’t before been published here on The Blue Testament.

Another interesting part of this story (and the table below) is how long players have been with the club. Graham Zusi is by far the most tenured player with going on 12 years of service. The next closest is nearly six years less, in Tim Melia. What’s maybe most wild of all is the 6th most tenured player is 18-year-old (nearly 19) Gianluca Busio who has been with the first team since August of 2017.

Let’s take a deeper dive and look who is out of contract at the end of this season. First we’ll look at players without options (meaning they are free to leave — outside of any bizarre MLS roster rules) and then we’ll look at players that the team holds at least one option year on.

Out of Contract After 2021 with No Option Years

Johnny Russell, Graham Zusi, Roger Espinoza, Daniel Salloi, Graham Smith, Kendall McIntosh

The list has some heavy hitters on it. The first four players are arguably all starters. We won’t get in to whether they should be re-signed or not today (let’s save that for another story) but it’s worth mentioning that any player within six months of a contract expiration can sign a pre-contract with another club. I wouldn’t imagine that would be an issue for players like Zusi or Espinoza, but Russell and Salloi both have experience overseas and could be ones to watch.

Out of Contract After 2021 with Only a 2022 Option Year

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

These players are also out of contract, but SKC hold a 2022 option that they can trigger to lock them into another year of service. There are some obvious Homegrown players that you’d trigger without a second thought (Busio, Lindsey, Hernandez) and then there are more expensive and more fringe players that aren’t a lock to stick around.

Out of Contract After 2021 with a 2022 & 2023 Option Year

Wilson Harris, Brooks Thompson

A couple Homegrowns have their guaranteed deal run out at the end of this season but are such cheap options with such huge upside, you’d expect to see them stick around. This is true of most of the Homegrown players who usually will get at least a year worth of options triggered just to see what the team has in them.

That concludes all the players, barring a trade or transfer, who could be gone after 2021. Everyone else is at least guaranteed for two more seasons (and some for many years beyond that). Below is the full table of all 29 players currently on the roster with their options (or lack there of) listed to the side.

Sporting KC Contracts - May 2021

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
Daniel Salloi LW HG 1/13/2016 2021 None
Ilie Sanchez MID - 1/13/2017 2021 2022
Gianluca Busio MID HG 8/25/2017 2021 2022
Jaylin Lindsey RB HG 1/1/2018 2021 2022
Johnny Russell RW DP 1/31/2018 2021 None
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
Brooks Thompson GK HG 1/20/2020 2021 2022, 2023
Wilson Harris CF HG 10/21/2020 2021 2022, 2023
Kendall McIntosh GK - 12/12/2020 2021 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
Grayson Barber MID HG 1/20/2020 2022 2023, 2024
John Pulskamp GK HG 2/24/2020 2022 2023
Nicolas Isimat-Mirin CB INT 2/3/2021 2022 2023
Kaveh Rad CB HG 4/5/2021 2022 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
Ozzie Cisneros FWD HG 1/20/2020 2024 2025
Kayden Pierre RB HG 5/4/2021 2024 2025

As if they need defining, I’ll give you a little key for the “status” column:

  • HG = Homegrown
  • DP = Designated Player
  • INT = International Roster Spot