With the preseason started for Sporting Kansas City and just around the corner for the KC Current, there are lots of stories to catch up on. Let’s get to them.
SKC Rumor Update: CB Norbert Gyomber
Earlier in the offseason we told you about a rumored center back signing coming out of Italy. Norbert Gyomber plays in Serie A for Salernitana. He recently returned from injuries and apparently played quite well. This updated reported from Salernitana News states that Sporting KC are still in the hunt along with Italian club Cagliari.
Kansas City are rumored to be offering a three-year deal to the 30-year-old while the story seems to state he may want a two-and-a-half-year deal. In MLS, that wouldn’t make much sense meaning he’d leave in the summer, which is the middle of a season, though for a player that may want to end up back overseas, that’s probably better than being out of contract midseason in Europe.
For more on Gyomber, check out the original rumor write-up.
Sporting KC II Rumor: French Youth International
According to French journalist Loïc Tanzi, “Kansas City (MLS)” are signing French youth international winger Amadou Traore to a two-year contract.
Libre après son départ de Bordeaux, Amadou Traoré (2002) s'est engagé deux ans avec Kansas City (MLS) #Mercato— Loïc Tanzi (@Tanziloic) January 11, 2023
However, the KC Star’s Daniel Sperry confirms the deal isn’t done and it’ll be a SKC II signing if it gets done.
Landing with SKC II makes more sense because, despite the time in the French top flight, Sporting Kansas City’s first team is pretty full on international slots (with several other rumors outstanding).
A little more on Traore. He’s a 20-year-old winger who came up with Paris FC’s youth system. He then moved to Bordeaux and climbed all the way to their first team. He had 20 appearances in the top flight (Ligue 1) but for only 303 minutes. He only had a single assist in that time. He also played with France from the U15s through the U19s.
Despite the impressive pedigree, he’s yet to really break through. But at just 20-years-old, this makes a ton of sense for SKC II.
A New Playoff Format Proposal
Towards the end of the 2022 season rumors came out via The Athletic that MLS was considering an overhaul of their incredibly successful playoff format. It was a World Cup style format which was essentially designed to give more games that matter to Apple TV.
Now it looks like yet another playoff format is on the table.
The Athletic is reporting that the first round of the MLS Cup Playoffs will move to a best of three series (which is a bit of a throwback to the MLS of yesteryear). This could generate as many games as the World Cup group stage idea but eliminate games that are meaningless (group stage games where teams have nothing to play for). Teams would only play the third game if one team hadn’t already won the first two.
Obviously, ties add a complication, so it’s the first team to five points that advances, but there could be a situation where both teams have four points. In that case, reports are the third game would go into Extra Time until a winner is declared (with penalties presumably coming after if needed).
After this best-of-three first round series, it goes to single elimination. Details are still being worked out, but it looks like MLS still plans to climb to 16 playoff teams, eight in each conference. That’s 55 percent of all teams getting in, which is stupid.
I encourage you to check out the full article as there are a few other interesting topics, including the proposition of an intraleague transfer market with fees versus General Allocation Money (GAM) being traded (not that GAM trades would go away).
Apple TV Details Emerge
MLS Season Pass on Apple TV is still a bit of an unknown even with the season set to start towards the end of February. Pablo Maurer of The Athletic got his hands on a document distributed to all the clubs and found out a bunch of details of what team’s will be required to do that he posted in a Twitter thread (click the below Tweet to see the whole thread).
Got my hands recently on a document MLS distributed to its clubs last month. In it, the league lays out expectations for what each of its club's needs to provide in terms of video content for this new Apple deal. I'll thread some details here.— Pablo Iglesias Maurer (@MLSist) January 10, 2023
Each club will have their own “club room” full of all kinds of content and will be required to hit certain topics. One example is something called “The Ritual” which is about fan/supporter culture. Additionally, there are 2-minute profiles of each player, a 5-episode series on iconic players, classic moment pieces for each club (also 2-minutes), a weekly team report with training updates, news, previews and so on, all the press conferences, an academy update and more.
This should be a non-issue for a team like Sporting KC that already provides much of this content through social media, their app and SportingKC.com. Other teams apparently expressed concerns about creating this content as they don’t have the staff in place.
This is all in addition to all the games available (six per week in front of the paywall) and things like the wraparound show that will run all evening on Saturday (this is probably the most interesting thing for me other than just watching SKC games).
SKC II Sign 20-Year-Old Spanish Forward Vidal
Sporting Kansas City II are building their 2023 roster at an accelerated pace compared to previous seasons. The team announced on Wednesday the signing of 20-year-old Spaniard Paul Vidal. He is joining from Spanish giants Villarreal CF, however he featured primarily on their third team, Villarreal C, after moving up from their U-19s (oh man, can we get a third Sporting KC???).
Vidal is a center forward who was under contract through the summer in Spain, but this looks to be a permanent move. He’ll join fellow forward Josh Coan in battling for those CF minutes. Vidal has 34 appearances in the last year and a half and has managed three goals.
- Former The Blue Testament staffer Aly Trost Martin confirmed there are no sideline reporters in MLS in 2023 as a part of the new Apple TV deal.
(1/2) Hi, my soccer friends! With talent announcements starting to come out for #MLSSeasonPass, wanted to share that I won't be involved this season as I was told there won't be sideline reporters (at least at this time). I remain incredibly excited about the future of MLS…— Aly Trost Martin (@AlyTrostMartin) January 10, 2023
- Former SKC forward Kei Kamara requested a trade from CF Montreal. It’s causing quite a bit of drama in Canada.
- Former KC Current assistant coach Ella Masar has landed a job with the Chicago Red Stars.
- This is from a month ago, but it’s a cool story from The Athletic about how international players are flocking to Miami. Inter Miami are definitely going to benefit long-term, though maybe they just want it to be a vacation spot and not to play there, though the story hints otherwise.
- Matt Doyle has an MLS mailbag, but no SKC content.