Transfer Targets for Sporting Kansas City

Sporting Championship-winning team will look a lot different in 2014
by Skylar Rolstad   |   Sunday, January 12, 2014

State of SKC - column on Sporting KC (SKC) & the Kansas City soccer scene.

As we’re in the thick of transfer season once again, Major League Soccer’s brief offseason makes for exciting news and rumors in density and frequency. Toronto FC has taken the lead in the offseason so far by signing Jermain Defoe, the Tottenham star, completed his deal and travelled to Toronto.  And earlier Monday, Toronto FC confirmed Michael Bradley will be switching to Toronto FC, too.

Other teams making notable moves this offseason are DC United, who have added Eddie Johnson, Davy Arnaud and Bobby Boswell, and Seattle, who have signed Chad Marshall at center back and Kenny Cooper at forward.

Meanwhile at Sporting Park only 2 rather predictable signings have been made, but buzz is growing about ones to come. Heineman and company are known not to look for huge players like Defoe and Bradley, but have been in Europe trying to find players that will fit into the team. Sporting’s team is going to look different in 2014, that’s for sure, but here are the players that the team should be looking for.

Defensive midfielders

Ever since the sale of Roger Espinoza to Wigan, things have not been completely the same for Sporting as far as defense in the middle of the field goes. Uri Rosell grew into the position for the 2013 season, but Rosell is more of a positional supporting midfielder and not so much a player with the tenacity to stomp out counter attacks before they begin a la Espinoza.  A true D-mid is something Sporting has been missing for a long time. Sporting were susceptible to counterattacks in 2013, most notably the Aug. 3 game against New York at Sporting Park. All 3 of the Red Bulls goals were scored from counterattacks in SKC’s 3-2 loss.

Paulo Nagamura gave Sporting a spark late in the season when he regained health, but Nagamura is also a box-to-box player that lacks the tenacity on defense that Espinoza brought to the table.

A defensive midfielder is perhaps the most important spot for Sporting to fill. A prolific d-mid gives players like Zusi and Feilhaber more freedom to make something happen up the field and keeps possession for the team. The team was reportedly going for Motagua’s (Honduras) Jorge Claros, who had been on loan with Hibernian in the Scottish Premier League. To the chagrin of Sporting fans, the deal fell through, as tweeted by Robb Heineman.

Winger

Another objective that includes replacing a former player vital to Sporting’s success, the winger spot is important for Kansas City to improve because most of the team’s chances come from crosses or being able to beat fullbacks down the flanks and then find a player in the box. When Kei Kamara left for good to play at Middlesbrough, Soony Saad and CJ Sapong were made to play on the left wing.

If Sporting’s midfield stays the same, or a new signing is made for a defensive midfielder and no starting midfielders surprisingly leave, Graham Zusi is going to ideally be featured on the right wing.  CJ Sapong or Soony Saad will be on the left, with Sapong likely starting. Both Saad and Sapong are players suited for a center forward spot that should be backing up Claudio Bieler in the middle. In the event that Dom Dwyer leaves in this transfer window, one of those two will back up Bieler.  Still, an upgrade at winger is needed.

Sporting’s inactivity in the transfer market is unsettling. You don’t hear much about this team unless it’s regarding a player leaving the team. That may be a credit to the team’s management being able to keep things under wraps but it almost may be an indication that nothing is moving along. In the summer transfer window SKC was expected to make at least one signing that will affect a game-day lineup, but only 19-year-old Jimmy Medranda and 20-year-old Brendan Ruiz were only signings made for the future.

Dire is not the word to describe Sporting’s need for new signings this January, but new faces to replace those who may be leaving would not hurt. The team’s impressive depth still remains, but Sporting has not made an important addition in over a year.

NEXT UP: March 8 – Sporting Kansas City vs. Seattle Sounders, CenturyLink Field, Seattle, Wash. 3 p.m. EST, NBCSN.

Skylar ROLSTAD

Nationality:
USA
College:
Univ. of Kansas
Club Domestic:
Sporting KC
Club Foreign:
AC Milan
A student at the University of Kansas. He writes for the Sporting Kansas City club column for Soccer Newsday and is a regular at Sporting Park. His passion for soccer can best be described as unhealthy.
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