The most exciting time for many clubs is the offseason. Every fan wants to see who teams bring in to strengthen their team’s for the starting XI and bench. Sporting Kansas City has a lot of work to do after having a disappointing season. The end of the season has been a light of joy in retrospect with the additions of Erik Thommy and Willy Agada in the summer.
If you missed it, I did a breakdown of where most of the roster stands currently. Be sure to check that out first. Now, let’s take a look at some targets around MLS that could potentially help Sporting KC in their roster build.
Sporting gave up 54 goals this season which is not good. They did seal it up for the most part down the stretch only giving up six goals in their last eight games; two each against the LA Galaxy and FC Dallas, and one each against Minnesota United and the Portland Timbers. Both Andreu Fontas and Nicolas Isimat-Mirin are out of contract or have a contract option. My best guess is that Fontas will be the only one that would stay, but his wages are the issue. If Sporting part ways with both of them, there are some decent options in free agency to pick up players.
Alexander Callens- a left footed center back with leadership skills that thrived with New York City FC and winning a MLS Cup in 2021 with them. He would drastically improve this team with his strength and grit.
Aaron Long- This move would be doubtful in many ways. He was defender of the year back in 2018 and had an impressive season leading the New York Red Bulls to a 13th consecutive playoff appearance in 2022 after coming off a season ending injury back in May 2021. Most likely heading to the World Cup in Qatar and interest from European teams. This would be a BIG move for Kansas City if they decided to go all out and get Long.
Kansas City doesn’t need any midfielders for the starting XI. Unless Vermes decides to move Remi Walter back into more of that box-to-box role and just alternate Kinda and Thommy from game to game. So that would make signing a defensive midfielder vital for the offseason if this is a case. If he stays with Walter playing as a 6 then he has to go out and find a backup because Uri is… yeah. Now most of the free agents do have option years with their current clubs so these are just fun couple options in my eyes.
Jacori Hayes- Not the biggest name player on the list and he wouldn’t start in the midfield, but he would be a decent option off the bench. A draft product in 2017 who signed with FC Dallas where he made 38 appearances with 1,936 minutes providing 1g/3a with Dallas before signing with Minnesota. There he played 34 games in 1,194 minutes with 1g/2a. He only played eight games in 2022 due to breaking his leg in a friendly against Premier League side Everton. He’s somewhat of a similar player to Walter, but more natural as a number 6. He’s good on the defensive side of the ball and can make a quick pass to get out of trouble. He’s 27 and can be a good player in this league.
Junior Moreno- A natural number 6 and he is having a great season with FC Cincinnati who are (after winning three wooden spoons in a row) making their first playoff appearance in history! He played 24 games and started 22, providing 2g/1a in his first season with FCC. He has an option to stay at Cincinnati which is probably going to happen, but it would be a good sign for Kansas City even if he doesn’t start! A fan can dream.
With Willy Agada being a huge signing for Kansas City (eight goals and two assists in 12 games) it leads to a controversial decision at the 9 role. Pulido was out all season after a season ending injury/surgery in the offseason. He’s only played 33 games in three seasons with Sporting and scored 14 goals and added eight assists. He can be one of the best forwards in this league. It’s just been derailed by so many injuries and call ups to the Mexican national team. This is for another column someone else will most likely write so I’ll just hear everyone’s thoughts in the comments below [Editor: Or a podcast!]. If Sporting decide to stick with Agada and Pulido then we need a 3rd option at our center forward position. Here are some realistic free agents worth taking a look at.
Dominique Badji- He’s going to be 30 when the new season starts but the guy has 38 goals and 19 assists in the league after being drafted by the Colorado Rapids. Currently at FC Cincinnati he has no goals and two assists in 24 games. He’s honestly the only forward on this list that is realistic and could fit well in the role Vermes has his number 9’s play. He does have an option year for Cincinnati in 2023.
Honestly I couldn’t find another player that would be affordable for SKC or realistic. I’m sure they’ll find someone or bring back Shelton.
It was a less productive season with wingers Salloi and Russell compared to 2021. With 15 goals and six assists between the two of them they had a lot on their shoulders riding into the season with Pulido out and Shelton not able to produce. Russell is going to be 33 next year and you can see there are still a few gears left on him, but he carried this team from late February to mid July. At the end he was just wiped out. Marinos Tzionis was the back up winger and didn’t get a lot of game time, but the potential is there (just watch the DC United game to see)! Maybe they bring in a winger with experience in the league or with some good talents to fill in for Russell when he is exhausted or to bring in to change the pace of the game.
Derrick Ettiene Jr- A winger with some pace and skill! He brings in league experience after being in it for seven seasons and recently having a solid season with Columbus scoring nine goals and adding six assists. He could be a good asset to this team and he is indeed out of contract. He can whip in a cross and score a good goal here and there. He’s 25-years-old as well! If Columbus isn’t going to re-sign him, Sporting should go after him if they have the cap space!
Fafa Picault- The out-of-contract 31-year-old will be 32 at the start of the season, but he’s a good player! Plus to take him from rivals Houston Dynamo would be fun as well! He did have interest from a Liga MX side back in the summer, but he worked himself back into the lineup at Houston. He was one of Houston’s few bright players in another down year for the Texas team. He had seven goals and three assists in 2022. He’d be a good option coming off the bench for Russell or Salloi or starting some games too.
This just covers up some areas of where Sporting KC will stand in this offseason. We should all keep our heads up high and have a good time with high hopes this offseason! It should be a fun time after Sporting tried to alter the season and 2023 does look promising for this team! Let me know your thoughts or anything you would like to see this winter from Sporting KC!