Sporting Kansas City will again look to secure a trophy despite their most expensive player ever (Alan Pulido) being out for the year. Can SKC overcome that loss? Can the new players fit in and contribute? Can Graham Zusi and Roger Espinoza still start or will AARP force more rotation? This and more in the 2022 season of….
Sporting Kansas City
- 17W – 10L – 7T = 58pts – MLS Regular Season, 3rd in the West
- 1 – 1 – 0 – MLS Cup playoffs, Conference Semifinal
- 0 – 1 – 0 = 0pts – Leagues Cup
- N/A = Lamar Hunt US Open Cup
- Lost in the Western Conference semifinals
Head coach: Peter Vermes
D - Ben Sweat (12/20/21 - signed as free agent)
M - Uri Rosell (12/21/21 - signed as free agent)
D - Logan Ndenbe (1/14/22 - transfer from Guingamp)
D - Kortne Ford (1/14/22 - signed as free agent)
D - Robert Voloder (1/19/22 - transfer from NK Maribor)
F - Marinos Tzionis (1/24/22 - transfer from Omonia Nicosia)
F - Nikola Vujnovic (2/15/22 - loan from FK Vozdovac)
D - Amadou Dia (11/30/21 - option declined)
F - Wilson Harris (11/30/21 - option declined)
D - Luis Martins (11/30/21 - option declined)
D - Roberto Puncec (11/30/21 - option declined)
M - Ilie Sanchez (11/30/21 - option declined)
GK - Brooks Thompson (11/30/21 - option declined)
D - Graham Smith (11/30/21 - contract expired)
D - Jaylin Lindsey (12/12/21 - traded to Charlotte FC)
F - Grayson Barber (2/14/22 - waived)
F - Tyler Freeman (2/14/22 - waived)
Projected Best XI
A normal SKC 4-3-3 is expected (would be earthshattering if changed)
Best offseason move: Lots of potentially good moves collectively. No bank breaking transfers but all solid signings that can either help right away or have great upside. Overall the best move was adding depth everywhere except goalie. Two forwards, four defenders and a midfielder. Three of them are U22 Initiative players and three of them have MLS starting experience.
Best reason to pay attention: Sporting KC manager Peter Vermes seems to have embraced the MLS U-22 initiative this year. SKC brought in speedy and skilled Belgian left back Logan Ndenbe, possession passing German center back Robert Voloder and tricky Cypriot winger Marinos Tzionis. Ndenbe will certainly get time as he fights newly acquired veteran Ben Sweat for the starting left back spot. Tzionis missed training camp but with the depth on the forward line a little thin, he should get opportunities sooner rather than later. Voloder may find it harder to break in to the starting 11 but he will be in the mix quickly.
In addition to Sweat, SKC signed MLS veterans Uri Rosell for his second stint in Kansas City and KC native Kortne Ford. With those three SKC added MLS experience that can start or add depth across the defensive half.
The most recent signing is 25-year-old Nikola Vujnovic, a Montenegrin international striker on loan from Serbian side FK Vozdovac. Vujnovic adds depth and a scoring touch to the front line that was needed with Alan Pulido out for the year. That is a reason to pay attention enough right there, SKC has performed well without Pulido but can they do it all year?
The one glaring weakness : Relying on SKC’s wingers to score. Both Daniel Salloi and Johnny Russell can score and while SKC did alright when Alan Pulido was out with injuries, it required the wingers to have near career-high years. Russell is getting older and while there is a lot of potential with the new signings, they are still an unknown in MLS play.
One fact you can use to impress your friends: New forward Nikola Vujnovic on loan from FK Vozdovac played in a roof top stadium on top of a shopping mall in Belgrade. Childrens Mercy Park may not be on a roof but the nearby shopping areas may make him feel at home.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe character who most personifies this team: Hawkeye? The old one, not the young new one. Clint Barton was always overlooked, never respected, often beat down and injured while all the shiny super powered individuals got all the credit and attention. Despite their injuries and lack of superpowers, they keep coming through and proving their relevance. SKC and Hawkeye have their own fanbase that is rabid and will defend them to the death.
Also read previews by David Greenwald of 2022 Western Conference teams: