Sporting KC’s Offseason Checklist

4 steps Sporting has to take to prepare for next season
by Eric Harris   |   Monday, November 17, 2014

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

Sporting Kansas City’s title defense ended with a whimper at the hands of Thierry Henry and the New York Red Bulls.

Now, after a season with no hardware, SKC will have to examine what went wrong and spend their offseason retooling for 2015. First is finding out what went wrong. By Peter Vermes’ own admittance, the team ran out of gas after a season filled with injuries, Champions League and plenty of international call ups.

Which is why the first step for Sporting is getting their own players healthy.

1.Get the stars rested

2014 was the busiest year in both Matt Besler and Graham Zusi’s careers, both players logged over 2,000 minutes in the MLS regular season. That doesn’t even include all of the minutes in Open Cup play, CONCACAF Champions League and International duty for the US National Team. Benny Feilhaber and Dom Dwyer both logged career highs in minutes played as well. If Sporting will continue to rely on these four players to be their stars, they must recover in the offseason. There will be no Champions League next season to fill the schedule so all their focus can be on the league.

2.Find an answer in the midfield

With Zusi playing more of an attacking role and Uri Rosell moving to Europe, the depth at the middle was tested all season. It got even worse when Alex Martinez was dropped and Paulo Nagamura was struggling with an injury. The good news for Sporting is that finding midfield depth may not have to break the bank. SKC was fortunate with the lottery for the dispersal draft for Chivas USA. Sporting was awarded the third pick of the draft. With Dan Kennedy expected to be a top pick, that nearly guarantees that Marky Delgado or Thomas McNamara will be available. Both are young midfielders who can grow with time and ease some of the pressure of Mikey Lopez to develop.

3.Get a second striker

For the majority of the season, Dom Dwyer had more goals than the rest of the team combined. He finished with 22 goals, the rest of the team had 25 in MLS play. The next highest scorer was Zusi who finished with five. The next true striker on that list was Soony Saad who only had three goals this season. Sporting can’t continue to rely on Dwyer being their only source of goals. Realistically another player will either have to step up or they will need to sign a player who can contribute 10 goals this upcoming season.

4.Figure out the goalkeeping situation

Erik Kronberg and Andy Gruenebaum both had plenty of opportunities to prove themselves this season. Both had mixed results, Kronberg started the season strong, but didn’t look the same after returning from his injury, and his mistake could be blamed for the fateful goal by Bradley Wright-Phillips that ended Sporting’s season. Gruenebaum put up decent numbers, but Sporting struggled to get three points in the games he started. Its important for Sporting to have a clear number 1 in the net before the season starts. Because if one struggles early, a controversy could be developing and that’s not how to start a season.

NEXT UP: January 31 – Sporting Kansas City v. Portland Timbers (Pre-Season Friendly), Kino North Stadium, Tucson, Ariz. 8 p.m. EST, TBD.

Eric HARRIS

Nationality:
USA
College:
U of Arkansas
Club Domestic:
Sporting KC
Club Foreign:
Fulham
American soccer fan by birth, SKC and Fulhamerican by choice. Watcher of all soccer, professional, WoSo and college. A life long Arkansan, he spends more money on soccer jerseys than a college student should.
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