During ESPN’s broadcast of the Sporting Kansas City match against the New England Revolution on Sunday, Taylor Twellman dropped a nugget that will certainly pique the interest of fans looking for any relief to the team’s offensive woes. Two players were listed as imminent signings: Erik Thommy and William Agada.
Who is Agada and where does he play?
Agada, 22, is a Nigerian center-forward who currently plays for Hapoel Jerusalem in the Ligat ha’Al, the top tier of Israeli football. Agada started in the youth academy of Maccabi Tel Aviv, one of the most successful clubs in the Israeli league, before being transferred to Hapoel Katamon in the Israeli second division. His professional debut was in 2018 for Katamon.
It gets a bit peculiar from there. Hapoel Katamon was a breakaway club founded in 2007 by fans who were unhappy with how Hapoel Jerusalem was being managed. However, Hapoel Jerusalem disbanded in 2019 due to financial issues and Hapoel Katamon rebranded to take on the Jerusalem mantle. All in all, Agada has made 126 appearances in all competitions with 41 goals.
What kind of impact could Agada make?
In the graphic posted by ESPN and captured by my spirit animal, Chad Smith, it notes that Agada had five goals in the 21-22 season. However, the official site for the Ligat ha’Al notes that Agada bagged eight goals, which was tied for 14th in the league. He had 74 attempts on goal, which was good for fifth.
Potential player comparisons
Statistics without context are meaningless, so what does Agada’s production actually mean? The Israeli Premier League is ranked 21st by UEFA, which is above Sweden and Norway but directly behind the Swiss and Greek leagues. MLS has only seen a handful of players who plied their trade in Israel, most notably Haris Medunjanin. Medunjanin played two separate stints at Maccabi Tel Aviv before signing with Philadelphia Union.
A more apt comparison might be Aaron Schoenfeld, who is currently out of contract but previously played in both Israel and MLS as a forward. Schoenfeld earned 51 caps with the Columbus Crew and scored five goals before transferring to Maccabi Netanya. He earned 72 caps for three different teams and scored 14 goals. In 2020, Schoenfeld transferred to Minnesota United and only made 14 appearances with one goal before having his contract declined. Schoenfeld’s value, per Transfermarkt, peaked at $500,000 during his career.
Sporting Kansas City fans will obviously be familiar with Gadi Kinda, who didn’t seem to struggle in his transition from the Israeli Premier League to MLS.
Agada is valued at slightly over $350,000. In comparison, Kinda was valued at about $1.2 million when he transferred from Beitar Jerusalem to Sporting Kansas City. Given the Transfermarkt valuations, Agada might be closer to Schoenfeld in terms of production than Kinda.
It’s exceptionally hard to find video from the Ligat ha’Al so I settled for a highlight video posted a year ago. Agada looks to have some pace but he excels using his body and physicality to seal defenders and make turns into space. He was capable of finishing with both his left and right feet, with a preference for his left. Agada primarily lined up centrally, but was capable of playmaking from the wings with early crosses and through balls. Watch the video below for some highlights. Warning: lyrics to the highlight video are NSFW. That said, the remix to Astronaut in the Ocean is a BANGER. Enjoy.
Agada is a young player with upside who is primarily a center-forward but is capable of playing anywhere across the attacking band. Given his value and that he only has one year left on his contract, Sporting Kansas City can likely acquire him for a minimal transfer fee. Signing Agada probably means that Nikola Vujnovic is not going to have his loan made permanent. It also seems to signal that Vermes is looking for more depth and goal dangerous players with the uncertainty surrounding Daniel Salloi’s contract status, Johnny F’ing Russell’s refusal to age backwards, and Khiry Shelton’s lack of goal scoring.
What do you think? Is Sporting Kansas City about to sign Khiry’s replacement? Is Agada another Latif Blessing-like signing?