Is it just me or is this week just too full of news? It is wild how close the Sporting Kansas City season is to starting (or preseason at least) and we’ve definitely pushed through the ‘slow’ time of the SKC offseason. Let’s get to the news.
Alan Pulido Update!
After Wednesday’s 2023 MLS SuperDraft, Sporting KC’s Vice President of Player Personnel, Brian Bliss spoke with the media. I was off recording my podcast (go listen to For the Glory KC!) but listening back one very interesting thing came out of that call.
#SportingKC's Bliss on Afrifa: "We were looking at somebody that fit our style, somebody that we felt could come in and make an impact knowing that ALAN PULIDO is expected to be back but we don't know exactly the timeframe of that."— Chad Smith (@PlayFor90) December 22, 2022
Interesting Pulido update.
“We were looking at somebody that fit our style, somebody that we felt could come in and make an impact knowing that ALAN PULIDO is expected to be back, but we don’t know exactly the timeframe of that,” said Bliss.
To emphasize, “we don’t know exactly the timeframe” is news. All of last season Pulido was doing some pretty intense workouts on his social media (and lately he’s travelling the world while still working out). I can’t imagine he’s not ready to go, but this tells me Sporting KC are planning to take it easy with Pulido. They likely don’t want to rush him back because they have a capable starter in Willy Agada if Pulido isn’t ready.
8th Pick Expected to Make the 1st Team
The MLS SuperDraft is weird. The 2023 edition even more than usual. The first seven picks of the draft were all traded (or “rounds” were traded according to the Houston Dynamo), some for a substantial set of General Allocation Money. Sporting KC were actually the first team to use their natural selection.
With that pick, most of us expected them to (a) select a defender and (b) pick a Generation Adidas player. The defender question was seemingly answered in how Bliss thought Afrifa could fit into the team and supplement the potentially slow integration of Alan Pulido back into the lineup.
“He’s a striker/winger... he’s dynamic in his play, clever on the ball and can break lines and get behind defenses,” began Bliss. “He can also do it on his own on the dribble because he’s very creative as well.”
As for why SKC didn’t pick a Generation Adidas player, Bliss gave some insight.
“The [Generation Adidas] guys sound attractive because of the GA tag, but anymore the GA categorization of these players doesn’t really make it any advantage like it used to in the past... they all sit off the roster anyways. That didn’t have a determining factor.”
For some insight on the Generation Adidas rule, players are signed by the league on three-year guaranteed contracts, and they are off budget on the supplemental roster. I know many of us had speculated that if a non-GA player was taken, it might be a tough road to make the team. However, it sounds like the club doesn’t view it that way. Bliss also said, “we expect [Afrifa] to make the first team just based on a skill set.” However, he added a caveat, as is always the case, saying “a lot is going to determine on how he comes in on his mentality.”
In other words, no one is a lock. But there is a path. Both his and Pulido’s progress will likely determine if Afrifa is on the first team or is offered an SKC II contract.
What About the other Draft Pick?
As for Christopher Rindov, the center back selected in the second round from the University of Maryland, let’s just hope he makes SKC II. I’m sure he’ll be with the team in preseason, and I suppose he has an outside shot at being the 5th center back on the roster (presumably they’ll sign a starting caliber RCB soon). We just got somewhat basic info on Rindov from Bliss.
#SportingKC's Brian Bliss on Rindov: "He's a 6'2" center back... he's a defender first. He loves to win balls and deny attackers opportunities to space."— Chad Smith (@PlayFor90) December 22, 2022
Best of luck to Chris, but as anyone can see, second round picks don’t generally make the first team roster. Heck, the last first round picks to do it were from 2018 (Graham Smith and Eric Dick). The last second round pick to sign a contract with the first team? Cyprian Hedrick way back in 2012!
Sure, Sporting KC have traded a bunch of their draft picks over the years, but that shows the recent value of the draft beyond the highest picks. For more fun facts, look at our Complete Sporting KC SuperDraft History. It has every pick and every trade ever made.
Sporting KC II Add an International Winger
As rumored earlier in the week, Sporting Kansas City II made it official on Wednesday when they announced the signing of right winger (it always feels weird to type that — I don’t know his politics) Andrew Draper via loan from Felipe Gutierrez’s old club, Universidad Católica. The 21-year-old was born in Texas but also has Ecuadorian citizenship (though he won’t require an international roster spot).
Before playing for Católica, Draper played for CD America de Quito, also in Equador but in the second division. Not a lot is known about Draper. He appears to have been a pro for two seasons and has played sparingly according to Transfermarkt. They list him with just 19 appearances, mostly as a substitute. In that time, he’s gotten 451 minutes, one goal and two assists.
His signing brings the team up to 10 players for 2023. He joins Bakary Bagayoko and Josh Coan as the only forwards on the roster.
- I loved this fascinating and relatively short read about the history of the FIFA World Cup Trophy and its predecessor.
- Tom Bogert could have a whole section to himself. He has news on new signings all over the league including a new DP at Orlando City, Major Leeds United sending a player to D.C. United, the Dynamo adding a winger from Paraguay on loan, Nashville trying to transfer out DP Ake Loba and Chivas locking down Daniel Rios from Charlotte FC via transfer.
- Victoria Pickett, who was traded from the KC Current to NJ/NY Gotham, signed a new three-year contract with a fourth year “mutual option.” That feels like a team and player option, which is progress in player rights in contract negotiations.
- I missed this story last month from Paul Tenorio about going to a Costa Rica World Cup game and carrying a jersey he had bought his father who passed away this year. Good stuff.
- Lionel Messi appears set to return to PSG. No need to book a roadron to Miami this year.
- Maxi Morales appears to be heading to Racing and leaving New York City FC.
Hace instantes, Maxi Moralez firmó contrato con #Racing hasta diciembre de 2023.— Leandro Adonio Belli (@LeandroAdonio) December 22, 2022
Mañana tendrá su primer entrenamiento y posteriormente, será presentado oficialmente.
¡Bienvenido a casa! pic.twitter.com/jBcJKaSvQH
- This is some heartwarming stuff. To see how much they care just makes me wish I could make my kid care about soccer.
- No re-dos on tattoos. Insert clever joke here.