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Sporting KC’s Roster Build Status and Update

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A recap of roster moves so far and the remaining needs with a just a few weeks to go before the first pre-season game.

Peter Vermes
He will take responsibility for this one...
Photo by Nick Tre. Smith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Musings of a Madman

Seriously though just skip to the next section, this is not for you it is for me.

Friends if you are like me you took the first month after Sporting KC bowed out of the 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs to do find a cozy spot to cry alone in.... just me? Cool cool cool.... in any case, it's time to get back in the proverbial saddle for this here cowboy by which I mean writing for my soccer family, The Blue Testament. And by “writing” I mean drive-by vomiting my stream of consciousness on unsuspecting readers.

If all this makes me sound like a crazy person well it's probably because of COVID-19... yes “19” as in we have been living with this sneaky son of a you know what for more than two years now and it just keeps $h!#ing on our lives and on our favorite sports teams... but I digress. Okay, time to re-engage my sense of self-respect and humanity..... rebooting..... aaand I’m back let's be coherent from this point out.

A Timeline of Events

To kick this off we should review what/when things have happened so far as well key upcoming dates.

Out: Amadou Dia, Wilson Harris, Luis Martins, Roberto Puncec, Ilie Sanchez, Graham Smith, and Brooks Thompson.

Trying to re-sign: Roger Espinoza, Kendall McIntosh, and Graham Zusi.

Out: Jaylin Lindsey

In: Garber Bucks (up to $325,000)

In: Kendall McIntosh

Out: N/A

In: Ben Sweat

Out: N/A

In: Uri Rosell

Out: N/A

In: The right to make an offer... yeah I am serious... and no he has not signed yet which seems like a bad sign.

Out: N/A

Editor: And he’s not signing.

—— Today (Jan 7, 2022) ——

  • Jan 11 - MLS SuperDraft (The “Super” part is extremely optimistic of MLS...)
  • ~Jan 22 - Players show up for pre-season camp (This date has not been announced but I am assuming one week of camp before games)
  • Jan 29 - First pre-season game
  • Feb 27 - First regular-season game

Some Holes

The nerds out there who “do math” may notice that seven people have left and three people have come in or were re-signed which means the roster is running pretty lean right now. To visualize this it might be easiest to talk through my depth chart for each line (feel free to disagree on the order):

Defense

GK:

  1. Tim Melia
  2. John Pulskamp
  3. Kendall McIntosh

LB:

  1. Ben Sweat
  2. ???

LCB:

  1. Andreu Fontas
  2. ???

RCB:

  1. Nicolas Isimat-Mirin
  2. Kaveh Rad

RB:

  1. ??? - If Graham Zusi re-signs this is probably his spot to take although I have concerns about relying on a 35-year-old as your starter
  2. Kayden Pierre

So the defense is pretty sparse. We need at least one in each of the left-back, center-back, and right-back spots. We have not heard any rumors regarding the outside backs but there has been a bit of buzz around a promising young CB out of Germany. Even if we re-sign Zusi I am only comfortable with our RB situation if Vermes will actually play Pierre which he does not have a strong track record of in the past.

Midfield

CDM:

  1. Uri Rosell
  2. Remi Walter
  3. Jose Mauri
  4. Jake Davis

CM 1 (True #8):

  1. Remi Walter
  2. Felipe Hernandez - Assuming he gets re-instated and he is healthy. At the end of the day, this is just a game and if him playing professionally is going to enable his gambling addiction then he probably needs to choose a new career. Felipe, if you are reading this we miss you and hope you are getting the help you need.
  3. Uri Rosell
  4. ??? - If Roger Espinoza re-signs then this spot is his or maybe a spot higher? He should not be a penciled-in starter at his age but can spell someone for a break and be a good “locker room guy”
  5. Jake Davis

CM 2 (#8/#10):

  1. Gadi Kinda
  2. Cam Duke
  3. Remi Walter
  4. Ozzie Cisneros

Our midfield feels pretty flush with talent and depth right now! The only question marks are who is the starter at the defensive-midfield spot and if Felipe Hernandez does not come back who is the second in line at the #8 spot.

Forwards

LW:

  1. Daniel Salloi
  2. Khiry Shelton - Probably his worst spot on the forward line
  3. Grayson Barber
  4. Tyler Freeman - He is out on loan until midway through the season though

CF:

  1. Alan Pulido
  2. Khiry Shelton
  3. Gadi Kinda

RW:

  1. Johnny Russell
  2. Khiry Shelton
  3. Grayson Barber

This probably does not look too bad but you might notice the second in line for all three spots is Khiry Shelton. This is a concern if you ever have an injury or need to rest more than one of the starters at once. I would really like to pick up one or both of a new backup left-winger and center-forward. There was one rumor about us signing a Venezuelan LW but that does not seem to have much traction.

The Need to Move Quickly

So given that SKC needs to make at a minimum three signings (LB, CB, RB) and ideally one or two more (LW, CF) and the pre-season camp starts in a mere 17 days SKC really needs to get a move on. This is exacerbated by the ongoing delays with COVID protocols and challenges with getting visas for any international signings. Let's hope the front office has a number of deals basically done but has just kept them quiet.

Players to Watch

In terms of players who are currently low on the depth chart but I want to see more of this year:

  1. Kayden Pierre - Even if we sign Zusi we need Kayden to step up so PV can rest the man. Past that SKC needs to start getting a sense of whether Kayden is the future or if SKC needs to start grooming someone else.
  2. Grayson Barber - You could see flashes of talent last year but he struggled to really put it together into a full performance. If he does find another gear I have a lot less concern about the forward line depth.
  3. Jake Davis - He is buried on the depth chart so this is a longshot but he seems like he might have the makings of an Espinoza in him and SKC still don't have an heir apparent for Roger so...
  4. Tyler Freeman - Once he gets back from his loan I would love to see him start soaking up some sub or backup minutes. I want to find out if he is the real deal and if the loan helped him reach the next level.

The SKC II Situation

So if there are some concerns about the first team things get straight bonkers when you consider the second team. SKC II has no coach, and best I can tell two (!?!?!?) players actually signed. Maybe this is just because of uncertainty around them moving to the MLS Next Pro league from USL but it sure feels like they will need to work through that ASAP.

In Conclusion

There are some signings that need to get done quickly if the team wants the new players to have a full camp with the team. It is possible but unlikely to me that this is the year PV has decided to “play the kids” and then some of the depth charts look better but his track record does not indicate that he is comfortable doing that.

As for SKC II, they need to aggressively hire a coach and build a roster which will likely be mostly academy kids because of it being the MLS Next Pro league. In any case, I am counting down the days until I can watch the boys in blue play again. As always I welcome any comments with your thoughts. Go Sporting!