Last week, a rumor came out that Sporting Kansas City were attached to Cyprus attacker Marinos Tzionis. It’s silly season, these things come out and often don’t mean anything. There are a few rumors around SKC that have yet to come to pass this year (and many in years past).
At other times, there seems to be real energy building towards a move. This feels like one of those times. A second source came out saying (via Google Translate from Greek), “Our information about Marino Tzionis was completely correct and is confirmed. The Cypriot ace of Omonia will soon become a resident of America, he will play in Kansas City.”
And now there is a third, notable MLS writer Tom Bogert, who often has the inside scoop on these moves. He advised that, “Sporting KC are in talks to sign Cyprus international winger Marinos Tzionis from Omonoia Nicosia.”
Sporting KC are in talks to sign Cyrprus international winger Marinos Tzionis from Omonoia Nicosia, a source confirms. Reported in Cyprus by https://t.co/EwpifSt98i.— Tom Bogert (@tombogert) January 17, 2022
Tzionis, 20, already has 13 caps for Cyprus national team. Could be a U22 Initiative signing for SKC.
Of course, talks don’t always work out but it fits a need for SKC. So let’s see if we can find some additional information on top of what The Blue Testament already found.
Who is Marinos Tzionis?
I’ll repeat a bit here first. He’s a 20-year-old, right-footed player who primarily plays on the left wing per Transfermarkt but is capable of playing in the middle of the attack. He’s listed as a second striker and attacking midfielder. There is no mention of center forward, but secondary strikers and attacking mids can sometimes play the false 9, which is sort of what Gadi Kinda did when he moved to that role and not too far off of how Pulido plays. Watching the highlights in the prior story, he does appear to be on the left or in the middle most of the time.
He is an international for Cyprus and has 13 senior team caps. This year, across 24 appearances in his club’s league, Europa League Qualifying, Conference League and UEFA Champions League Qualifying, he’s played 1,608 minutes and has three goals and two assists. Not numbers that will blow you off the page but the season is only half over.
He had a more prominent season last year with seven goals and two assists. Before that, he wasn’t a regular and played sparingly. The 2020-21 season (which was a title winning season), is the first where Tzionis moved to LW primarily, so maybe he just needed to find his home. For his young career, he has 20 goals and four assists total.
SKC Roster Construction
He’s also listed as being under contract through the summer of 2024, so he would require a transfer fee to be pried away from his club Omonia Nicosia, which is a first division team in Cyprus. They are a historically success team, but they just ended a 10-year drought when they won the title for the 2020-21 season.
As far as fees, it’s not clear what his value is (TM has him at $1.32 million in US dollars), but whatever amount SKC pay, they appear to have the option to put Tzionis on the roster as a U-22 Initiative spot (assuming he makes under $612,500 a season). The team can pay whatever transfer fee and it won’t impact him since he otherwise qualifies. You shouldn’t overpay just because you can, but it’s less of a concern than it would have been just a few years ago when any decent salary would have made a player like this a Young Designated Player (Diego Rubio being the last example of this mechanism with SKC).
This is a good reminder that the U-22 spots are high risk, high reward. Many players in MLS, with just one year of history of this initiative, haven’t played much or made much of an impact. However, let’s talk positional fit.
Fit with Sporting KC
At this point, I’d be stunned based on the current roster if the starters aren’t: Daniel Salloi (LW), Khiry Shelton (CF) and Johnny Russell (RW). Preseason could change that, but Tzionis strikes me as depth looking to prove he belongs in the lineup. That aligns with the other players already on the roster: Grayson Barber (21), Tyler Freeman (19) and maybe Cam Duke (21 in Feb), but I see him more as a midfielder. This makes me think, even if Marinos gets signed, there may be the need for a veteran depth signing in the attack, probably one who specializes in CF unless Vermes plans to move Salloi there or play Tzionis there.
As the roster stands now, it’s veterans (probably) starting and youthful players looking to break through. Tzionis would round out a new second forward line as Freeman can play LW or CF, Barber can play both wings, but seems to be at his best on the RW. Slot Tzionis in on the left and/or he can swap with Freeman. Then again, rarely does a completely second set of players need to play (unless PV is planning on tanking the Leagues Cup one more time). Those guys will be fighting to be the first guy off the bench most likely.
Long-term, he could be looked at to be the starting left winger. Daniel Salloi is entering a contract year and there is no guarantee he’ll re-sign beyond 2022. I’m not trying to bum you out, just point out the facts.
To add to the highlights from last time out, TBT community member, DaChefsFan, posted the below video. It’s got many of the same highlights but some of them are from new angles. Plus it shows him saving a couple balls off the line and a few other new moments. As is often the case with highlights, it all looks pretty good. It’s what he does that doesn’t make the reel that can be even more important.
If you want to go deeper, here is a package from 2018-19 as well. You’ll see some glimpses of him on the right and they highlight a ‘missed’ PK call where he just lets himself go. Hopefully that’s something he’s gotten out of his game. I kind of like videos like this better, because it’s a lot of the little things that might not show up in the ‘prettier’ highlights. Passes that don’t lead to goals, hustle players on defense, etc. Considering he’s about 17 in most of these highlights, presumably he’s gotten better. Lots of promise.