Sporting KC Have 12 Potential Free Agents: Should they Stay or Go?

The 2021 Major League Soccer season ended unofficially on Saturday night when Sporting Kansas City stumbled against Real Salt Lake. As far as it still bites, the season starts almost immediately. Teams that have already been canceled have announced their moves to the roster and there is no doubt Sporting KC will join them soon.

Before that happens, let’s play a fictional sporting director and decide what we’re going to do with the SKC squad. First, a little background. Before the season ended, there were 30 contracted players. Four customers are immediately free at the end of the 2021 MLS season.

It’s also worth noting that MLS rosters go up to a maximum of 30 players. Some players will have to make room for new players, however, there is some wiggle room. Tyler Freeman is on loan at German second tier Karlsruer until the middle of next year and one player per season can go on loan for a year to SKC II to create another roster space.

So we’ll pick player by player and decide who to keep or who to let walk, as well as take a look at the impending free agents and decide who should come back. There is a caveat that players may not want to go back. Remember in 2020 when SKC tried to keep Gerso Fernandez but he left. They tried to offer Felipe Gutierrez a lower deal, but he refused.

So join Chad and my colleagues blue covenant Colleague Mike Cohn in deciding who should stay and who should go. Give your favorites, as you always do, in the comments.

Players with Options for 2022

Elie Sanchez

Chad Smith (CS): I think this is a no-brainer for most people. Ilie has been a fixture on this team since joining before the 2017 season, however, I think there are a few things worth considering. He earns a million dollars a season. He may not be a key defensive midfield player and he is certainly not a key player in CB’s playmaker. For all those who are complaining about SKC’s lack of depth, I think it’s clear that a million dollars could be spent in ways that would better help this team. All that said, I expect he’ll be back for one final season, but this could be an off-season shock if he’s gone. I imagine Jose Mori had a chance to make his way into the starting line-up next year, just as Remy Walter basically took on Roger’s job.

Mike Conn (MK): On the part of Peter Vermes I agree that this is a no-brainer, Eli is one of his comrades, he is one of the leaders on the team, and I have no doubts that his choice will be made. I think some questions could be asked of Ilie though including his salary, pace and place on the team going forward. In all competitions in 2021, Eli played 33 matches, 21 of which were in the center of the defense. Admittedly, the reasoning behind this mostly has to do with the fact that Nicholas Isemat Mirren’s injuries, but during that time the Kirkuk club were kept alone in the middle of the field with rotations of Gianluca Pusio, Remy Walter, Roger Espinosa and Jose Mori as the six played during those games. Is Vermis considering the possibility of moving forward without Eli and using his salary elsewhere in the team? Unlikely, but it is definitely something to consider.

Jaylyn Lindsey

CS: I won’t write much about this. Bring it back. Sure, he’s had an injury in different seasons, but he’s still young (March 22) and the apparent heir to the right-back position at the moment, although Kayden Pierre may have something to say about that long-term. Oh, and it’s really cheap as a local MLS player.

Knesset Member: Lindsay has missed the back half of the season this year with a hamstring injury he picked up in the League Cup against Club Lyon. Prior to that he had appeared in 14 matches, which is a career high for him. Being on the contract of a HomeGrown player and potentially a close substitute for right-back Graham Zusi makes picking his option an easy decision.

Louis Martins

CS: Martins is in a lot of heat, but I think he will be the de facto starter in 2022 until someone can oust him. He has a healthy contract ($340,000 in 2021), but honestly he’s getting better every season. It’s not perfect, but it’s clearly not easy to get to the attacking defenders who fit into this system. He will be a free agent at the end of 2022.

Knesset Member: The defense of Kavkaz Center needs some changes to it. For the first time in the club’s history, the team did not win a single match, 1-0. I don’t specifically blame Martins for that, but I think the left-back position is a position that could be considered for promotion in the off-season. I think it’s Vermis who picks his contract, but I’m likely to disagree with the coach on that contract.

Felipe Hernandez

CS: Everyone loves a back story. Hernandez’s suspension for gambling was unfortunate, but this team could have used him in midfield in 2021 and they would need to push his depth to start over in 2022. Also, it’s cheap and it’s not like PV to walk away from the man who asked for it. Help his heart has been played out.

Knesset Member: I would like to see Hernandez return after the suspension and be a successful contributor to the team as a player who came through a subsidiary of the club, to the academy, to Swope Park, to SKC, he has pushed himself to get to this point. I’m fine with his option this year, again as he is a club-friendly HGP contract but I feel he will need to show progress in overcoming his gambling problems. He obviously won’t be back on the field until the league clears him and I won’t derail the player’s career just yet, but I still have a number of concerns.

Roberto Bonsec

CS: This is one of the easiest decisions for me. He made nearly $600,000 and barely contributed in 2021 (3 GP, 2 starts, 130 minutes in the MLS). The team must reject their option and look for a cheaper alternative to be the primary backup for Nicholas Ezemat Mirren (or a deep piece if they think Cafe Rad is that guy).

Knesset Member: Like Chad, I don’t see this as a huge decision given Boncik’s salary, 2021 contributions, and at times he appears to have fallen behind Café Rad in the club’s full-back depth scheme. Puncec’s time with KC should come to an end.

lover’s day

CS: It saddens me to say, but we may have seen the last Amadou Dia movie. He barely saw the MLS field in 2021 (4 GP, 1 start, 101 min). At 28, he wasn’t the answer at left-back and I could see Vermis looking for someone younger (and faster) to be a deep cut. Louis Martins has proven himself to be an iron man and misses in no time. I imagine Dia is gone, but I can see him coming back just because he’s inexpensive and knows the system.

Knesset Member: I think this is the end of Dia’s second term in KC. He finished 2020 as a starting left-back, but he never started in 2021. Dia doesn’t have a big contract with Sporting, but at 28 and hasn’t been much of a contributor this year, he looks likely to get younger while staying relatively inexpensive. .

Wilson Harris

CS: We haven’t even begun to see this kid’s talent. I hope he earns more minutes in 2022 and beyond. Choose this option!

Knesset Member: An easy choice to pick up in my opinion, he’s still young and showed a lot at the USL Championship level. He needs more time at this level to prove if he can do it at the MLS level.

Brooks Thompson

CS: Fans of another player do not know yet. Thompson has struggled with a lot of injuries in his history, but if he can recover (without MLS games and only 5 in USL in 2021) he could be the goalkeeper of the future. will be back.

Knesset Member: I see no reason not to bring him back in 2022, the only question for him and the rest of Caracas’s goalkeepers is whether they will carry four goalkeepers again or if they will be riding with Thompson, Tim Melia and Jon Polskamp.

Imminent Free Agents

The deadline to submit a good bid to free agents was yesterday, November 29th. So this did or did not happen, but it was not known to the public at the time of writing. The team has four free agents.

Roger Espinosa

CS: The hardest of all decisions. I think we may have seen Roger’s last ride. He played well for most of 2021 and declined as the year went on, although his use has decreased compared to recent seasons (where he’s been healthy or there’s been a whole season). Clearly Remy Walter has taken the starting position in my eyes and is much younger than that. Then there are guys like Hernandez and Jake Davis waiting to take his spare minutes. It’s not out of the question that he’s got another year’s deal, but I think he takes off in the sunset. I hear SKC II needs a coach anyway. Roger is one of my favorite players and if he goes it will hurt me, but I think the time has come.

Knesset Member: With depth in the Kansas City central midfield at the moment, this could have been the last time we saw Espinosa on the field for a Kansas City side. Part of me isn’t ready for this to be the end for him, but that’s the heart, not the head that speaks. With midfield depth back, KC will be able to move on from Espinosa if he chooses. Like Matt Besler last year, it would be really weird to see him in another MLS jersey. If my heart were to make the decision, I would offer Espinosa a one-year contract with an option in 2023 to allow him to remain in Kansas City with his new wife and retire as a player at Sporting KC.

Graham Zusi

CS: Zusi just finished one of the best seasons of his career. I just can’t see him retiring, even as the year ends with a heartbreak. I imagine he started signing one-year deals (hopefully at a discounted rate) and splitting time more evenly with Lindsey. I think that was the plan this year before Lindsay got hurt. At least one year for Zeus.

Knesset Member: Of the two veteran players whose contract has expired, Zusi is the player I think most likely to return in 2022. KC’s right-back position is deep in terms of players with Lindsey and Kayden Pierre still on contract, I’m not sure which of the players is ready at the moment to start Working full time. So unless someone new is brought in, I think Zusi will be back in 2022. As Chad mentioned, Zusi has had his best year at right-back since at least 2018, if the club can manage their minutes, he will be able to be a solid contributor to the year. next. As for me, I will give him a guaranteed one-year contract with an option of 2023.

Kendall Macintosh

CS: It saddens me to say, maybe the Macintosh is gone. I’ve only interviewed him twice but he gives thoughtful and considerate answers, which makes it hard not to like him. However, John Pulskamp is clearly the primary backup and Thompson is waiting in the wings. Keeping four goalkeepers has always struck me as odd, and it’s not inconceivable that Kendall will return so Polskamp and Thompson can spend an extended period of time on loan in the new NBA Third Division.

Knesset Member: Whether the answer to my previous question is that KC carries four or three goalkeepers, one of them won’t be McIntosh. With Pulskamp the clear number two behind Tim Melia, McIntosh may want to find a place where he can get some more time. If KC carries a fourth guard next year as a veteran to allow Polskamp and Thompson to split time with whatever league Sporting KC II plays in, Vermes will likely find that player elsewhere.

Graham Smith

CS: That’s a little trickier than Puncec for me because Smith is cheap and frankly, a very good player. If SKC moved on from him and Puncec, he would only leave three heart players on the roster (Isi, Andreu Fontas and K. Rad – although technically, kind of four if you bring Ilie back). Smith was not the event CB used most often in SKC II (which belongs to Danny Barbir) and he did not appear in the MLS this year. I bet the team will move on from it and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Barbier or a low-cost veteran take on the role.

Knesset Member: Smith was one of two field players who did not see the field for the first team in 2021, the other being Tyler Freeman. He finished sixth in the center back depth chart this year, behind Nicolas Isemat Mirren, Andrew Fontas, Elie Sanchez, Cafe Rad and Roberto Boncic. At 26, his breakthrough as a full-time newbie to the club seems unlikely. Maybe it’s time to move on and find a smaller depth option to go along with Rad, whether that’s from SKC II, one of the League’s many drafts, or some other league mechanism.


It takes a little fun because Mike and I mostly agree. But that doesn’t mean you have to agree. Let us know your opinion in the comments.

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