Welcome to another edition of Blue Notes, stories you may have missed (or never wanted to read) from the world of Sporting Kansas City and soccer in general. Let’s get to the big one.
Rumor: Newcastle, Fulham and Sheffield United Want Russell
We have to put this firmly in the ‘take this with a grain of salt’ category. The Sun is reporting that English clubs Newcastle United, Fulham and Sheffield United are all interested in a free transfer of Sporting KC winger Johnny Russell. The Sun is famously a tabloid and gets their fair share of reporting wrong, but it’s worth spending a moment talking about.
As we reported earlier today, Russell is out of contract at the end of 2021. So that does mean that within six months of that date he can sign a pre-contract to join another team outside of MLS. To acquire a player of Russell’s quality, even at 31-years-old, on a free transfer can never fully be ruled out. Newcastle have avoided relegation and are staying in the Premier League, which may be appealing to some players. Fulham and Sheffield United are headed down to the English Championship, where Russell has played before for Derby County.
In the past, Russell has said he doesn’t want to play anywhere but Sporting KC or perhaps his boyhood club Celtic. However, if we take of our “fan” goggles for a second, it’s something to seriously consider. If a team comes along and makes a transfer offer for Russell, KC has to think about it. Even a nominal transfer in the top two division of England could be substantial in MLS. He could leave for free in the coming months and getting a return is worth exploring. He isn’t getting any younger and he hasn’t been quite as good the last couple of years as he was in the first few in KC.
Personally, I’m a big Russell fan, but in sports these things happen. Just last offseason Matt Besler, Felipe Gutierrez and Gerso Fernandes all left for free. If selling Russell in the summer means a return, while it’ll hurt this season, it’s better than getting nothing in the winter. And he’s simply not going to stick around forever. Peter Vermes has been pretty clear he’d rather move on a year too early than a year too late.
Okay, enough possibly sad news, even if it’s just a rumor.
(h/t to The Blue Testament writer Ben Gartland for that title)
As I’m sure you heard, the Columbus Crew got rebranded to Columbus SC. They lost the Crew name and their pretty sweet logo. Well, the Crew have been saved... again, as the team reversed course and put Crew back in the team’s name. The whole situation is a hot mess. So the new logo will also go away, though a timeframe on that change is up in the air. Another part of the change is returning to having a yellow home kit and black away kit (they currently have a black home kit and white away kit). That will take time too with the long cycle time over at Adidas.
R.I.P. Columbus SC. 0-2-0 in the two games they played.
It’s interesting how fast this one came down. I’m generally fine with going back to The Crew but KC Star writer Shaun Goodwin was on SportsBeat KC with former TBT writer Aly Trost and Goodwin actually defended the name change with some logic that may be unique to someone who isn’t from this country. I’m not sure I’m buying in fully, but it’s an interesting take.
Kaw Valley Gets a New Opponent
Kaw Valley FC play in USL League Two and will be joined by another Chicago team, Chicago City SC, for the 2022 season. That makes three Illinois teams that are playing in the Heartland Division. I wanted to share because we don’t cover Kaw Valley enough and with the above story being about a bad rebrand, this just reminds me of the Chicago Fire’s failed rebrand and how this logo with it’s use of the skyline and city flag is so much better than the Fire’s failed attempts at rebranding.
Welcome to the newest members of the Heartland Division, @chicagocity_sc joins USL League Two ahead of the 2022 season.— USL League Two (@USLLeagueTwo) May 7, 2021
Details ⬇ | #Path2Pro https://t.co/9ISEVevWLR pic.twitter.com/Hc6pqutiER
Doyle’s Take on SKCvVAN
Some folks don’t like to give clicks to Matt Doyle’s articles, so here is a link to the Reddit story. In his breakdown of Sporting KC versus the Vancouver Whitecaps, Doyle, like many of us, thought the slow center back pairing of Ilie Sanchez and Andreu Fontas could be disastrous (though he seemed more worried about them in the air and they are both pretty good with their heads). But instead, seeing how well they, along with Gianluca Busio at defensive midfielder, maintained possession, he thought that possession took away Vancouver’s main weapon — set pieces.
It’s an interesting take. It could also just be that Vancouver aren’t very good and had also played three times in a week and seemed exhausted out there (much more travel than KC). But I’ll be intrigued to see if the experiment at CB continues to work.