We're officially less than a month until Sporting Kansas City kick off their season, and less than 24 hours before the first MLS teams kicks a ball in a real game when Real Salt Lake and Columbus play the first leg of their CONCACAF Champion's League Quarterfinal match-up. And today after 5 days away, KC returned to Arizona for the rest of their preseason training. The team will play a few more preseason games, including ones against Portland, Montreal, and New York.
In those games and in the remaining weeks of training, KC still has some decisions to make. The team currently has 21 players under contract and 14 known trialists still in camp to fill out their 30 man roster. Of those 9 remaining spots, KC currently has 4 remaining international spots available in those 9, as Andy points out. Of the known trialists (including the remaining 4 draft picks), eight would count as internationals. Here's a quick break down by position of the players on the roster and in camp. Remember this is only up to this point, there are likely to be more trialists joining the team in Arizona for the final phase of preseason. Those that count as internationals are marked with a (*).
On Roster: Jon Kempin, Eric Kronberg, Jimmy Nielsen*.
The team hasn't brought in any trialists in goal this preseason as the team seems set there. Kronberg and Kempin only signed last season, while Nielsen had his option picked up this offseason. Nielsen is the starter and is likely well ahead of Kronberg and Kempin at this point.
On Roster: Korede Aiyegbusi*, Matt Besler, Kevin Ellis, Roger Espinoza, Michael Harrington, Luke Sassano, Shavar Thomas
Trialists: Calum Butcher*, Omar Colley*, Julio Cesar Santos Correa*, Daneil Cyrus*, Mike Jones, Gor Kirakosyan, Scott Lorenz, Mitja Morec*.
Lots of internationals in defense, mainly in the middle of the defense. Butcher, Colley, Correa, Cyrus, and Morec are all hoping to make the roster mainly in the center of defense so I'd think two could make the roster. With the waiving of JT Murray, Lorenz looks like he could earn himself a contract to back up Roger Espinoza. Jones could make the roster as an end of the bench player getting a roster spot, but it depends on how other American players do. Kirakosyan I don't believe would count as an international, I'm pretty sure he'd fall into the same category as Yura Movsisyan.
On Roster: Davy Arnaud, Stephane Auvray, Jack Jewsbury, Craig Rocastle*, Graham Zusi.
Trialists: Michal Mravec*, Milos Stojcev*, Konrad Warzycha.
Not as many trialists here, but we continue to hear the rumors of the attacking central midfielder that we are still looking for, but still unable to sign. Stojcev is said to be a bit of an attacking minded player. Mravec and Warzycha though are both more defensive minded and will be battling with Auvray, Jewsbury, and Rocastle, along with Birahim Diop to get time there. The number of foreign signings in defense will have a big effect on which, if any, of the international midfielders sign.
On Roster: Omar Bravo*, Teal Bunbury, Birahim Diop, Kei Kamara, Chance Myers, Ryan Smith*.
Trialists: CJ Sapong, Travis Bowen, Adda Djeziri*.
Sapong is very likely to be signed, I expect him to be on the team. Smith's international status could change very soon which could open up another international spot for another player, like Djeziri, who has impressed at times this preseason with his skills, but will be remembered just as much for throwing up in the middle of training the day of the beep test.
The other thing to remember and something I'm starting to kind of believe KC will do, is not fill all 30 roster spots. I'm sure the team will fill all 4 remaining international spots, to put KC up to 25 players. Then they'll be able to sign 3 more American (or green card holder) players and get $35,000 in allocation for the 29th and 30th spot. Plenty is going to be answered in the next few weeks.