Sporting Kansas City won the U.S. Open Cup championship last week, its fourth major trophy in the past six seasons. Then players and coaches promptly spent the next four days talking about how they had moved on from that victory.
In that spirit, this mailbag will do the same. Let’s get to it.
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Kevin Ellis and Sporting KC mutually agreed to take a leave of absence from each other earlier this month, a result of the two sides “not seeing eye to eye on some things,” sources told The Star, adding that the split had nothing to do with any incidents involving teammates. I’m still working to find out more.
The language here is important. Both sides agreed on the leave of absence. Ellis can rejoin the team anytime he pleases. If he wants to show up for practice tomorrow, that’s his option under the league’s collective bargaining agreement, which forbids individual teams from suspending players. But there has not been any indication he plans to do that soon.
Ellis remains under contract through 2018. An educated guess: I’d be surprised to see him finish that contract in Kansas City.
Yes. The vast majority of them.
As a reminder, when Sporting KC traded Dom Dwyer to Orlando City SC in exchange for $1.6 million in allocation money in July, $700,000 of that sum was incentive-based. Peter Vermes classified those incentives as “easily attainable.”
Sporting KC received money when Dwyer made his first appearance in Orlando City, for example. Dwyer’s first point with Orlando City — an assist on Sept. 9 — triggered the largest portion of the pile.
The funds will be paid out over the next two years, so Sporting KC will have plenty of money to play with in the next two seasons.
Which leads to ....
Sporting Kansas City, without question, will seek an addition to the front line this offseason, likely at striker. And it will be active in its search.
Will it be able to land an attacking player? I think so, but I’m not ready to call it a guarantee. There’s no lack of confidence in the current group — illustrated by the willingness to part with Dwyer in the middle of the season — which often prevents Vermes from overspending. He’s more cautious than aggressive in that sense. (See: Krisztian Nemeth this summer.)
I’d also expect Sporting KC to add some depth on the back line, specifically at center back. With Erik Palmer-Brown slated to move on to Manchester City in 2018 and the Ellis situation, there’s an need there.
No. A week before the Palmer-Brown signing was made official, one Sporting KC front office member classified his odds of staying in Kansas City as 25 percent.
Sporting KC thought Palmer-Brown could be a valuable piece this season, a needed backup with the injury problems that have plagued starter Ike Opara’s career. Although the playing time has been limited, Palmer-Brown has proven crucial. He was a monster in the Open Cup quarterfinals against FC Dallas.
Because there’s no transfer fee attached to Palmer-Brown’s looming offseason departure, Sporting KC will maintain his MLS rights should he ever decide to return to the league. Given that Kansas City is his hometown, there’s some belief he will do that, even if that’s awhile down the road.
Was that worth losing him for free rather than a potential seven-figure transfer a year ago? Sporting KC decided it was. Smart minds can disagree. Me? I’d take the money.
These really are two different questions, because “irreplaceable player” takes into account the backup for the position, and MVP really does not. But I’m stacking them together because I have the same answer for both.
He not only plays one of the most important positions in the Sporting KC system — linking the offense and defense in a team that made a point to play faster this season — he does it flawlessly. He’s so smooth on the ball and has been the primary key to Sporting KC turning it over less this season.
A case could be made for several other players as the team MVP — Tim Melia, Ike Opara and Matt Besler among them — but Sanchez is the pick.
The team believes it has abided by all the rules here, and people with whom I’ve spoken do not appear concerned. But they’ve also been relatively tight-lipped on this.
While Vermes refused to discuss the specifics of the Espinoza case, this quote was pretty telling: “Since my time here, we have never rejected a player getting called up to his national team.”
So I’m going to say it’s unlikely there’s a punishment (at least one that’s more than a fine), but it is important to remember that FIFA is presiding over the case. Anything can happen.
No, I don’t think it’s completely dead. Feilhaber hasn’t been included in the group since early 2017. He didn’t receive call-ups to the ensuing World Cup qualifiers or the Gold Cup.
But U.S. national team coach Bruce Arena told reporters this week that it’s getting too close to the 2018 World Cup to start experimenting with young players who have no national team experience. Therefore, if he’s inclined to make a change to his roster, the addition is going to be someone he’s familiar with. He knows Feilhaber well.
That’s all for now. Thanks for the questions. We’ll do it again soon.