Sporting KC’s Recent Roster Shake-Ups, Explained

The Expansion Draft, MLS SuperDraft, and off-season moves show roster holes and strengths
by Katherine Rupp   |   Wednesday, December 10, 2014

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

Comings and goings for Sporting Kansas City in recent days seem to have a bit of a shock value, although some of it may have been expected with rumors and rumblings from other clubs. With the news that Aurelien Collin was traded to MLS newcomers Orlando City SC, CJ Sapong to the Philadelphia Union, and acquiring Columbus Crew SC’s Bernardo Anor, it still doesn’t seem like the Sporting KC will stop anytime soon with shaping a MLS Cup-run worthy team for the 2015 season.

During one of the latest press conferences from Peter Vermes, the head coach expressed his appreciation and respect for both players who spent their time in Kansas City to advance the soccer culture and community in the area. “Both guys have been solid citizens with this club, they’ve been excellent in helping us build the ethos and the culture of the club, and they helped us find success on the field. They’re two players who for sure will be missed, and I’m sure they’re going to have successful careers as they go on.”

Additionally, because Sporting Kansas City will be transferring to the western conference starting in 2015, and both Philadelphia and Orlando City – with whom Sapong and Collin will be playing, respectively – are in the Eastern conference, that leaves fewer chances for the now-former Sporting Kansas City forward and defender to play against the Midwestern club.

What’s more, Sporting Kansas City acquired Bernardo Anor from Columbus, who will be a welcome addition to the squad with midfield and forward firepower. Because of the players left unprotected in the draft, Anor could become a force in the offense, especially when paired with Graham Zusi.

The area of the pitch that’s most lacking, at least now, is goalkeeper. Most recently, there were 3 goalkeepers but with Jon Kempin protected through his Homegrown status, the other two Sporting KC goalkeepers – Andy Gruenebaum and Eric Kronberg – are eligible for selection and are under unprotected status for the Expansion Draft (because of the additions of NYCFC and OCSC).

As it is there are quite a few places in the roster now that need to be filled and areas of the pitch that need to have a focus. Specifically, beyond goalkeeper that is, there will be quite a few spots to fill or to have strength in by having multiple players excel at the position. The recent departures of Collin and Sapong will have either players needing to be acquired for those positions at right center back and forward, or players will need to come up within the current roster ranks.

At defense, Sporting KC has most of it’s backline either protected or unavailable for section (because of Homegrown or Generation adidas status) and will be relatively strong, albeit young, for next season – if Peter Vermes and the coaching staff don’t pick up anyone else. Although, there is relatively bright news in that injured Ike Opara is ahead of schedule with rehabilitation.

With midfield, the most consistent performers are protected but interestingly enough, a handful of players who were brought over for 2013 or 2014 and spent just the past few seasons in Kansas City are available to other MLS clubs. However, with recent signing Bernardo Anor, as well as Benny Feilhaber, Jimmy Medranda, Paulo Nagamura, and Graham Zusi still with the squad, the middle of the park will be ripe with seniority.

And lastly with forward, with only Dom Dwyer protected, prepare to see a small influx of playmakers – whether or not they have an ‘F’ or an ‘M’ before their name. The firepower at forward, with playmaking as well as with shots, shots on goals, and goals, are needed and necessary for Sporting Kansas City to succeed – especially in the ever-getting-stronger Western conference – and to make a run for another MLS Cup.

With the Expansion Draft and the MLS SuperDraft (coming up in January) being held soon for the 2015 season, look to the Sporting front office and coaching staff to make those shrewd, but somewhat aggressive, moves in terms of trades, acquisitions and allocation money to build a stronger and more successful team for 2015 in many competitions.

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

Katherine RUPP

Drake University
Club Domestic:
Sporting KC
Club Foreign:
Tottenham Hotspur
Unabashed Minnesotan by birth. Tried reliving the glory days of collegiate intramural soccer championships but an ACL tear dashed future hopes of adult recreational greatness. Covering a city’s team that’s too big for one state: SKC.