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Gadi Kinda Undergoes Surgery, New Signings Coming and Zusi/Espinoza Updates

The first Peter Vermes press conference of 2022 was not ideal, but it’s not all bad news for Sporting Kansas City.

MLS: Playoffs- Round One-Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Sporting Kansas City Gary Rohman-USA TODAY Sports

As if the news of Alan Pulido being out for “likely” all of 2022 wasn’t bad enough, Sporting Kansas City Head Coach and Sporting Director, Peter Vermes, dropped another bomb in his first press conference of the year. Designated Player Gadi Kinda underwent minor knee surgery and will miss all of preseason as well as the start of the regular season, though the plan is that he’s going to return. Vermes described it as a “clean up on his knee.” Let’s just hope it is really minor, as these things have lingered in the past (see Puldio, Gutierrez, Medrandra, etc.).

That leaves SKC without two of their three DPs to start the season, with only Johnny Russell (hopefully) being healthy. That’s quite the blow to the often potent Kansas City attack. Luckily Daniel Salloi was essentially a DP in 2021 based on his performance.

Who Steps Up for Kinda?

Outside of Kinda, here are the midfielders currently on the roster: Remi Walter, Cameron Duke, Felipe Hernandez, Ozzie Cisneros, Jose Mauri, Uri Rosell and Jake Davis. Plus, guys like Grayson Barber can play there, though he seems to be viewed as a winger.

You can cross Rosell off the list, as he’s definitely a defensive midfielder. Mauri also plays d-mid, but did get limited minutes at one of SKC’s dual #8’s. But I’m crossing him off too for the most part.

So to start the season I think it’s Remi Walter and either Felipe Hernandez (assuming his suspension is lifted) or Cam Duke. Duke is definitely more of that “Kinda” type of player. More dynamic, creative, speedy. But Hernandez has shown sparks of that. Either way, the “kids” will be counted on and there are only more “kids” behind them. It’ll be interesting to see if Davis or Cisneros take that next step.

Also, there is always the possibility of Roger Espinoza returning.

Updates on Espinoza and Zusi

Speaking of Roger Espinoza and Graham Zusi, they remain free agents, however the team is still negotiating with them. SKC currently have one right back, soon to be 19-year-old Kayden Pierre, and suddenly another hole in the midfield. Both players definitely have a place on this roster and it feels like deals will get done (my opinion, nothing anyone said).

The team must sign at least one more right back (they need someone at each defensive position really) and likely they’ll add another midfielder, because you can never have enough. They are loaded with youth in the middle of the field, so a wily veteran like Espinoza could fit back in as long as he doesn’t steal too many minutes from future stars.

Vermes gave no indication if those negotiations were going well or were close. You have to wonder if the Pulido news impacts them and their decision making process. Sporting’s chances definitely took a hit for 2022.

New Signings are Coming

As a part of his opening salvo, Vermes said, “there will be some announcements in the coming days and weeks of different players that we’ve signed.”

“There are a lot of different things to take place,” continued Vermes. “There are contracts, agreements, immigration and medical status of each player. Until all that is all done, we can’t make any announcements.”

So basically, deals are essentially done, just have to dot those I’s and cross those T’s. I imagine it’ll be a busy few days/weeks of announcements coming too, because the team also confirmed they leave for preseason next Monday, January 17th in an earlier press release. No MLK Jr. Holiday for the team I guess.

Vermes confirmed later that the signings will come on every line outside of the goalkeeper position, feeling they are set there with Tim Melia, John Pulskamp and Kendall McIntosh.

Other Notes from Vermes

  • PV once again commented on the difficulty of obtaining green cards for players since the pandemic started. New in 2022, for players newly acquiring green cards, to “count” it has to happen before the roster compliance date. That date is February 25th this year. So a green card after that date means a player will count for an international roster spot all season. Currently six of the eight available slots KC have are filled. Some of these signings may fill in a few other spots.
  • When asked about new signings Ben Sweat and Uri Rosell and if they will be starters, Vermes said he wouldn’t get into that. However, he did say, “everyone will get a chance to play. Guys figure that out for me. It’s through their play, through their training.” There will be media availability with Sweat and Rosell later this week.
  • Vermes also gave an eloquent answer about the value of the MLS SuperDraft. It’s long and I won’t transcribe it at this time, but essentially there are still roster spots on MLS teams for the guys that prove they are worth it, but a lot of them are going to end up in MLS Next Pro or the USL Championship.