Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Sporting KC a Number of Roster Moves

Sporting Kansas City made their first set of offseason moves today, declining options on six players, announcing four others out of contract, and mutually terminating the contract of Lawrence Olum.

The termination of Olum's contract paves the way for his move to Malaysia that came out yesterday. The move will allow Sporting to retain the Kenyan's MLS rights should he return to MLS.
Of the four players out of contract that Sporting is extending offers to, Aurelien Collin was already known. He's joined by the team's second homegrown player, Kevin Ellis, and forwards Jacob Peterson and Soony Saad. 

Collin's contract discussions have already been well documented. He's looking for a pay increase, and with his center back partner, Matt Besler, signing a Designated Player contract during the season, you can bet that Collin is looking for something similar or at least a max. salary. That's something that I'm not sure that KC is going to give to Collin. Unless the new CBA is going to bump the salary cap a lot, I can't see KC using that much cap on their two starting central defenders.

Kevin Elllis had a break out year for Kansas City. With all the injuries and call ups along the back line, Ellis played all four of the defensive positions along the back line, partnering Matt Besler, Collin, Erik Palmer-Brown, Chance Myers, and probably others I'm forgetting. A bump in salary for him would either see him moved to the senior roster year, or take KC's other HGP slot above the minimum. With his play this year, he deserves the bump.

Jacob Peterson was another player who saw play all over the field for KC this year due to injuries. While Peterson has the work ethic that Peter Vermes loves, he plays a position (wing forward) that KC desperately needs to upgrade this season. Peterson though did prove himself to be capable as a fill in as a wing back for KC. At this point I wonder if that may not be the position he'd fill for KC. He'd still be able to get forward in KC's system, but he'd open up the wing position for a winger who can provide more offensively. If the price is right I'd like to keep him around.

Saad saw a drop in playing time this year for KC, playing over 400 fewer minutes than he did last year. He has plenty of talent, but I don't think he fits that well in Vermes' system. I like him, I think he can be a good forward in this league, but he's struggled out on the wing for KC, and with Dom Dwyer in the middle he's not going to get much time there. Development in his wing play is certainly something that needs to improve, but I'm in no way against keeping Saad around.

All four players have received bona fide offers, so the team will retain their rights, should they make it through the expansion draft without being taken.

For the six players who didn't have their options picked up, most are not surprising at all. Probably the most surprising would be Toni Dovale, who had looked dangerous at times on the wing for KC. But at $180,000 per the players union numbers, he did not produce enough for Vermes to want to keep the Spaniard around.

Sporting will also be in the market for goalkeepers this weekend as both Eric Kronberg and Andy Gruenebaum had their options declined. Kronberg came into the season as the starter, but never really looked comfortable in there. His time was marred by some poor decision making, most famously in the playoff loss to New York when he hesitated coming off his line and Bradley Wright-Phillips scored the winner late. As for Gruenebaum, he did okay for Kansas City when he started in place of Kronberg, but his issue was the fact that he just couldn't stay healthy. Three different times this past season Gruenebaum missed time due to injuries.

Sal Zizzo is probably a more disappointing loss for his work off the field on the Benny Feilhaber Show. Which is probably the reason his option wasn't picked up. Zizzo played in 19 games for KC, and only recorded three assists. None since a 2-2 draw with Toronto in May, although he did have a goal in the CCL late in the season. I had figured with all the defensive injuries that Vermes would try Zizzo in one of the wingback positions, as he'd played there with the Portland Timbers before coming to KC, but he never did.

The last two players are the least surprising of the moves. Victor Munoz and Michael Kafari made a combined one competitive appearance for Kansas City. Munoz started Kansas City's US Open Cup win over Minnesota, but left after about 30 minutes with an injury (and looked incredibly poor up to that point). Both played in the second half of KC's loss to Manchester City in a friendly during the season though.

Kronberg, Gruenebaum, and Zizzo will all go into the re-entry draft in mid-December (1st stage December 12, 2nd stage December 18). Kafari and Munoz will be available in the waiver draft on December 10th. Dovale will apparently not be available in either and has his out-right release.

While those six are gone, and look unlikely to be re-signed, KC did pick up the options of five others, keeping Jon Kempin, CJ Sapong, Ike Opara, Dom Dwyer, and Seth Sinovic with KC, at least into the expansion draft.

With these moves it certainly appears that KC is set for a busy offseason.


Unknown said...

The only reason Ellis he had a "breakout" year was because Vermes was forced to play him a lot because of all the injuries along the back line. If Myers and Opara aren't out for the season early I don't think Ellis plays that much.

Morry said...

ok, but he did play well. We could have replaced those injured players with someone else who played poorly if you'd rather.