Going into the draft, it was hard to imagine Sporting Kansas City doing anything more than adding depth with the No. 14 overall pick.
The Kansas City Star
It didn't seem conceivable that they'd walk out of the draft with one of the better Generation adidas midfielders available in North Carolina's Mikey Lopez. (TopDrawerSoccer.com listed Lopez as the No. 1 player on its Big Board just last week; Lopez was 7th in Soccer By Ives last pre-draft board; and he was a consensus 6th pick in MLSsoccer.com's last mock draft.)
Sporting just keeps winning the offseason.
How does Peter Vermes envision using Lopez on this stacked team?
He told our friend Tod Palmer:
"He's got a big upside, and he's a player with a lot of quality to play as a defensive midfielder or even as a Paulo Nagamura type, where he can play more of an attacking role but goes box-to-box," Vermes said.
So, the midfield right now: Graham Zusi, Benny Feilhaber, Paulo Nagamura, Oriol Rosell, Peterson Joseph, Michael Thomas, Lawrence Olum and Lopez.
You can do things with that midfield. You can change games with that midfield. You can create mismatches with that midfield. And you can create really healthy competition with that midfield.
Besides Zusi and Feilhaber (who are figure to be mortal locks for the Starting XI somehow), each of those players gives you something slightly different.
Nagamura is the veteran rock. Joseph is the tricky, slick passing creative attacker. Rosell the patient fulcrum. Thomas the hustling change of pace guy for those congested summer fixtures. Olum the steady tackler who can help close out games. And Lopez, the young midfielder with plenty of room to grow.
That Lopez is a Generation adidas player -- which means that his salary won't count against Kansas City's salary cap for the immediate future -- is even sweeter. It's a perfect spot for him too, as he gets to learn a bit from all of those ahead of him without the pressure of performing instantly.
Training camp will open this morning here in Kansas City before the the squad ships out to Arizona on Sunday. It's not likely to be a full squad: Lopez will join Jon Kempin in the United States U-20 training camp; Feilhaber, Zusi and Matt Besler are training with the United States senior team.
Sporting Kansas City currently have 28 players on the roster out of an available 30 spots. While they might seem to be just about full, they could fill out two more roster spots before the season starts.
It's already been reported by Orlando City FC on Twitter that Haitian right back Mechack Jerome is going on trial with Kansas City.
Also, there's a four-round supplemental draft on Tuesday.
Here's what the official roster looks like right now.* This is also subject to change and there are players who, for whatever reason, don't show up for training camp.
*I've broken this down by general position with roster designation and other notes where applicable. New acquisitions in bold.
Jon Kempin - Homegrown player*
Kevin Ellis - Homegrown player*
Yann Songo'o - International
Peterson Joseph - International
Mikey Lopez - Generation adidas*
Oriol Rosell - International
Claudio Bieler - Designated Player/International
Dom Dwyer - Generation adidas*
* Homegrown and Generation adidas players do not count against the team's salary cap.
** Gardner and Miller are both able to play in the midfield.
*** Olum can also play centerback.
**** Zusi spent the final stretch of the season playing as a left winger.