Saturday, July 09, 2011

Midseason Grades

Wednesday against Colorado was Kansas City's 17th game of the season, the midway point of the season. KC played 13 of the 17 games on the road in the first half of the season, leaving them with 13 at home in the second half. Here are the midseason grades for Sporting KC players.

Korede Aiyegbusi - INC - Aiyegbusi has only played 93 minutes in league play for KC. He's competed a bit more in the US Open Cup competitions, but not enough to warrant a grade so far this season.

Davy Arnaud - C+ - Has moved back a bit in the midfield playing a bit more defensively for KC this season. He'd had to step back to help cover for the defensive issues. In the role he hasn't been as visible on the field. Since he went out with injury KC hasn't suffered but his experience in MLS could be a big factor down the stretch.

Stephane Auvray - D - The Gaudeloupe international missed time while at the Gold Cup, but even before then didn't appear to be getting a lot of playing time. Since returning from the Gold Cup he's fell further down the depth chart even with the injury to Craig Rocastle. Auvray is now behind at least Julio Cesar, Roger Espinoza, and Luke Sassano and looks to be on his way out of KC in the coming transfer window. A bit disappointing as he'd been solid for KC last year.

Matt Besler - A- - Besler has proven himself to be a starter in this league and has formed a strong partnership with Aurelien Collin. The defenses early season struggles are what has kept Besler from a straight A for the first half of the season as the past 11 games him and Collin have been extremely solid in the back.

Omar Bravo - B- - Maybe it's the fact that I've expected more out of Bravo, but so far I haven't been extremely impressed with the Mexican. He looked great in the opener, but since then has only scored one goal (from the penalty spot). Hopefully as he gets further away from his sports hernia surgery he'll continue to improve and start to put the ball into the back of the net.

Teal Bunbury - D+ - His play early in the season after coming back from his elbow injury is what has kept him from a failing grade. Bunbury's form has hit rock bottom it seems, he has struggled with everything from his touch to his shot. Hopefully he comes out of it quick as the schedule congestion continues for KC.

Julio Cesar - C- - I was ready to write Cesar off a month or so ago, he'd looked incredibly poor for KC in the center of defense no matter if his partner was Besler or Aurelien Collin. But he has started to bring his grab up since he has moved into the defensive midfield position with Craig Rocastle and Arnaud out.

Aurelien Collin - A - One of the favorites for team MVP at the mid-point of the season, and should be a favorite for MLS Newcomer of the Year. Once he got his feet under him in the league he's formed a solid partnership with Besler and has helped to stop the leaking of goals.

Birahim Diop - C+ - Diop has racked up 541 minutes so far this season for KC, and has moved back more into the midfield position than as a forward. As a replacement for Rocastle he struggled before making way for other players to play there. It's funny that fans have suggested that he needs to be moved back to forward, when we were saying the same thing about him moving to forward last season.

Kevin Ellis - INC - Has only played 27 minutes in all competitions for KC, a substitute appearance in the US Open Cup. He has apparently impressed in practice though according to reports.

Roger Espinoza - C+ - Espinoza struggled early in the season along with the rest of the back line, his form from last year just wasn't there. Since his return though he's found himself in the midfield where he has improved his grade greatly since moving there.

Michael Harrington - C - Harrington like Espinoza struggled early on in the season, then lost his starting spot to a combination of Chance Myers and Seth Sinovic. Lately he's returned back to the lineup, but hasn't regained the form from last year when he looked like he could potentially work his way onto the national team.

Kei Kamara - C- - Kamara's form hasn't been as bad as Bunbury's has been for KC, but the Wizards leading scorer last season is struggling almost as much as Bunbury. Kamara hasn't scored since his brace against New England and has fallen out of the starting XI for KC as well.

Jon Kempin - INC - Sporting's original home grown player has still yet to make his first team debut for Kempin. But that's not really surprising with Jimmy Nielsen and Eric Kronberg in front of him.

Eric Kronberg - B - Kronberg has appeared in 4 games for KC in league play, 3 starts, and outside the LA game has held up well. He's also recorded 3 shutouts in KC's run in the Open Cup so far.

Scott Lorenz - INC - Lorenz has only made one league appearance for KC, a start in Chicago. He's also made an appearance in the Open Cup, but not enough for a grade.

Chance Myers - B+ - Myers started the season looking again like a poor first round pick ealry in the season, but has since come on and replaced Harrington as the first choice right back for KC. His crosses have been some of the best on the team and he's helping to create chances from his wing.

Jimmy Nielsen - B+ - Really there's been maybe one game all season where Nielsen has really been at fault for giving up goals, other than that he's been as solid as he always seems to be for KC this season. And with a solid defense in front of him now he's showing that.

Craig Rocastle - B- - Rocastle had started to help with the turnaround for KC before going to the Gold Cup and getting injured. Now the question will become whether he'll be able to earn his spot back once he returns to the team.

Soony Saad - INC - The newest Wizards player, there's only been one game since he joined the team.

CJ Sapong - A - I wasn't ecstatic about the pick of Sapong in the first round, but he has proven me wrong, especially as Bunbury and Kamara have struggled. Sapong plays the center forward position the way that Vermes needs it played in this season. He's currently the leading scorer in all competitions with 6 and is tied for the team lead in league play with 3. A solid rookie performance so far, hopefully he doesn't hit a burn out period.

Luke Sassano - B - Sassano struggled with match fitness early in the season, but has become a solid contributor for KC. Mainly as a reserve midfielder, but has been a calming influence when on the field.

Seth Sinovic - B - The early season pick up off waivers from New England, Sinovic had staked a claim at the starting left back spot when Espinoza left for the Gold Cup and Harrington struggling for form. Sinovic has had a good run in the starting XI before injury forced him out. When he's ready to return will be interesting if he can beat out Harrington for the left back spot.

Ryan Smith - INC - Smith's departure from the team has been disappointing, but so far hasn't come back to bite KC. He struggled with recovery from offseason surgery during his time here this year and was able to only play 294 minutes.

Milos Stojcev - C+ - Stojcev has had his moments of brilliance on the field, but he has also looked poor, showing a lack of a right foot, and making stupid challenges, like the one against Dallas that saw him pick up a second yellow.

Shavar Thomas - INC - The Jamaican international has only played 35 minutes for KC this season, although some of those were in stoppage time against Vancouver when KC gave up two goals.

Konrad Warzycha - INC - Has spent the entire season on IR so far.

Graham Zusi - A - Zusi is having a break out season for KC, scoring 3 goals and assisting on 3 more. He's been providing great service on free kicks. He's come into his own this year.

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