Today is the unofficial beginning of Sporting Kansas City's MLS Cup defense.
The Kansas City Star
It's the first day that (most of) the players report back from the offseason at the team's Swope Park training facility. (The Star's Sam McDowell will have more on this later.) This afternoon, the entire team will head toward Tucson to officially begin the preseason. It accelerates quickly after that. The first match is on Tuesday at noon against FC Tucson (a Premier Development League team).
Earlier this week, we took at a look at Sporting Kansas City's current roster situation.
Most every player listed on that roster as of right now is expected to be there, with the exception of the five players currently training with the U.S. Men's national team: Matt Besler, Benny Feilhaber, Chance Myers, Seth Sinovic and Graham Zusi.
The U.S. team is currently training in Brazil in preparation for the World Cup this summer. The camp culminates with a friendly against the Korea Republic on Feb. 1 at the StubHub Center in California.
As for a few big-name question marks for Kansas City: Aurelien Collin is expected to join the team in Arizona and, according to reports out of Argentina, so is forward Claudio Bieler.
While this has been a (mostly) quiet week after the last rounds of the MLS SuperDraft, there have been a few pieces of news rumbling under the surface.
Reports: Sporting KC turns down $1 million offer for homegrown defender
On Thursday morning, there probably weren't a lot of people who knew much about Sporting KC's 16-year-old defender Erik Palmer-Brown. The Lee's Summit native quietly signed with the team last season and spent most of it training with the team, taking classes and with training with the U.S. U-18 and U-20 teams.
Today, just about everyone in the U.S. soccer world knows his name. That's because, according to Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl, KC just turned down a $1 million offer from Juventus for him.
According to Wahl, Juventus fist noticed EPB while watching him play for the U.S. youth national teams.
Obviously, Peter Vermes and Sporting KC have a pretty high opinion of the youngster. So does Juventus. After all, it's not everyday an Italian club offers you seven figures for an unproven teenager.* When he was signed, he was the youngest signing in club history and was the only player born in 1997 on an MLS roster.
*Something to think about: While it has to feel good as a teenager to know you might be worth a million bucks, maybe it feels a lot better to know that your hometown team thinks you're worth a lot more than that.
Before this news, I expected that EPB would spend the majority of 2014 training and learning under Matt Besler and Vermes while finishing up his schooling. In other words, I expected KC to take their time and develop him into the team's defender of the future. Now? I wonder if his development is accelerated. I mean, will a trip to a USL Pro team (even one coached by Jimmy Nielsen, Energy FC) be enough for a player who knows he could've been training with an Italian giant?
This has immediately jumped into the Top 5 things I'm going to be watching develop this preseason: Will he get games with the first team?
Vermes on Myers: 'We've made him an offer. It's now between him and his agent.'
On Wednesday night, Vermes went on the Sporting KC Show and was very candid about many things. The most pertinent, probably, was what he had to say about out-of-contract defender Chance Myers.
"We want him to come back. We've made him an offer. It's now between him and his agent. We're just waiting for their response. It's always a tough thing when you come to these situations where you've found some success over the last so many years. Players, based on their performances, want to continue to make more money and I understand that. But when you're in a salary cap, there's only so much to go around."
You can read the full transcript of his interview (there's also a media player to listen to the podcast of the show) here.
There were rumors ahead of the SuperDraft that linked Myers to Norwegian club Rosenborg. (His teammate with Team USA, Mix Diskerud, currently plays for the club.)
Myers, 26, is at an interesting stage of his career. According to the MLS Player's Union, he made $105,000 last year. Which is pretty good coin, but it's far less than some of his contemporaries (Tony Beltran: $166,800, Todd Dunivant: $150,000, Michael Harrington: $140,000).
Was KC's offer enough to keep him from testing the European waters? I guess we'll find out soon enough.
Kansas City adds winger from Philadelphia?
According to this report from Philadelphia (it's the fourth item in the story), the Union's top draft pick from last year, winger Don Anding, has signed with Kansas City. That's according to sources familiar with the situation.
According to that report, Anding cleared waivers earlier this week and was claimed by KC. I expect he's being brought to camp as a trialist, but no official comment has been made.
He made just one appearance for the Union last year and spent most of the season on loan to the Harrisburg City Islanders of the USL Pro. He projects as either a wide forward or an attacking fullback. Basically, the type of player Kansas City have typically coveted. (See also Sal Zizzo, Myers, Kevin Ellis and Josh Gardner.)