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What Move(s) Should Sporting KC Make on Deadline Day?

We take a look at what sort of moves Sporting Kansas City could make the with the transfer window closing today.

MLS: Los Angeles FC at Sporting Kansas City William Purnell-USA TODAY Sports

On today, Thursday, August 4th, the secondary transfer window will come to a close. Teams all around MLS are trying to make their rosters better for the stretch run of the Major League Soccer season. However, Sporting Kansas City have almost no chance of making the playoffs. But that hasn’t stopped the team from looking to make moves.

According to Daniel Sperry, Peter Vermes said the team is “working to get something done ahead of the transfer window on Thursday, but isn’t sure if it will get done in time.”

Here at The Blue Testament, we’ve already made the case that Sporting KC should be sellers, not buyers, as the window closes. However, most of the team’s assets that are of good value are players the team likely doesn’t want to sell. They just have a bunch of overpriced, expiring contracts (something of great value in the NBA, but borderline useless in MLS). So what can they do?

One Move They Must Make

Sporting Kansas City find themselves with an extra international roster spot. Unless they plan to use it for one of the positions below, they should absolutely deal it. They came into having an open spot after mutually terminating the loan for striker Nikola Vujnovic. The spot is basically useless after the window closes as no international players can transfer in. They can still sign guys through the roster freeze date, but they’d have to either be someone like a Homegrown, a free agent or an international that was already in the league but out of contract.

In other words, if a team needs the slot and Sporting KC don’t have plans to use it: Sell, Sell, Sell!!

Who Should They Bring In?

My main criteria for any player that Kansas City could sign today is a player that can help in 2023. There is no point in trying to make a splash this year, unless it’s really meant to help next year. Get the player in now, in an effort to get them acclimated for next season. That’s essentially what should be happening with new signings Erik Thommy and Willy Agada.

Think back to 2021 when it took half a season for Remi Walter to become a regular contributor, but he’s now a staple. If that period can happen before 2022 is over, KC can hit the ground running next year when they will get back Alan Pulido and Gadi Kinda.

Defensive Midfielder

Ever since Ilie Sanchez had his option declined, or arguably even sooner when Gianluca Busio was sold for a record fee to Venezia FC, Sporting KC have been looking for a new #6. Going into 2022, it looked like Jose Mauri was set to be the starter with Uri Rosell backing him up. Instead, Mauri was quickly released and Rosell has struggled to step up. The team has often played Walter out of position to try and stabilize the midfield.

If the team has the ability to make any sort of splash, this is the primary position of need. This team, maybe more than any other in the league, are heavily dependent on the play of the d-mid to make the midfield, and the team, go.

I’d venture it’s very unlikely a move happens here but it needs to be addressed in the offseason.

Center Back

At times in 2022, it’s looked like there are four guys who could be starting CBs on this roster. Nicolas Isimat-Mirin and Andreu Fontas are the (overpriced?) veterans. Kortne Ford was the ‘project’ signing that was looking to return from a long injury absence. And Robert Voloder was the signing for the future.

However, Fontas is out of contract after 2022, and he’s had a down season. Isi has also had his struggles and he has an option year for 2023 that SKC could choose to decline. Ford is in the same position as Isi (though it feels very unlikely they decline his team friendly deal). Voloder is still the man of the future being signed through 2024 with a 2025 option year.

The team was already tied to Italian center back Federico Barba, though reports have him wanting to stay in Italy. Barba fits the profile of a guy Vermes would like to bring in. He’s not old, nor very young, but he’s experienced. While it’s unlikely to be Barba, a similar move could be in the offing for today or in the offseason.

Forward Depth

After the 2022 season ends, Daniel Salloi will be out of contract. He hasn’t had much to say about re-signing with the team. The team also splashed a sizeable transfer fee for a possible left wing of the future in Marinos Tzionis. They are also presumably set at center forward (Alan Pulido) and right wing (Johnny Russell). That doesn’t mean they don’t need depth.

Outside of Salloi possibly returning, the team has Khiry Shelton (though they can decline his 2023 option) and Willy Agada on the roster. Agada should be the backup striker, but the team could use some depth on the wing. At times this year Cam Duke and Remi Walter have played out of position at RW. New midfield signing Erik Thommy also has experience playing wide left.

Despite the options that exist, KC would be well served to inject some speed off the bench and have an option they trust. They did loans from SKC II to the first team of winger Julian Vazquez several times this season. I’m not sure he moves up, but they clearly lack depth.

[Update: This story was written before the Tyler Pasher rumor that came out, maybe that’s the move.]

Right Back

This one is a bit of a stretch, but father time is undefeated. Kayden Pierre has proved he’s the right back of the future (and perhaps the present). However, Graham Zusi is out of contract after the season, though the team holds an option for 2023. It seems likely to me they pick up that option. Then again, Zusi has missed more games this year with injury than any in recent memory. For this reason, the team could decide to sign someone else to compete with Pierre for those first team minutes.

What do you think? What moves should Sporting KC make today, if any?