The first significant glimpse into Sporting Kansas City’s plans for its 2017 roster arrived Wednesday.
The club announced that it has exercised 2017 contract options for defenders Saad Abdul-Salaam, Jimmy Medranda and Seth Sinovic and midfielders Benji Joya and Lawrence Olum. Abdul-Salaam started 26 matches this season, and Medranda started 22.
While they will be back, a separate series of moves Wednesday provided an indication to which players will likely be departing Kansas City. Sporting KC declined club options for defender Ever Alvarado, midfielder Emmanuel Appiah, wingers Connor Hallisey and Justin Mapp and goalkeeper Jon Kempin, the first homegrown signing in Sporting KC history.
Kempin, 23, did not play an MLS match this season and failed to take hold of the starting job with the Swope Park Rangers, Sporting Kansas City’s development team. Mapp was the first free agency signing in MLS but was on the field for a total of only 43 minutes this season.
Homegrown defender Kevin Ellis and goalkeeper Alec Kann are out of contract this offseason, but the club plans to extend offers to both players and classified negotiations with each as ongoing. The offers will allow Sporting KC to retain their rights within MLS, increasing the chances of a return.
Defenders Nuno Coelho and Chance Myers, midfielder Paulo Nagamura and forward Jacob Peterson are also out of contract. Sporting KC will allow Myers, Peterson and Nagamura to test MLS free agency, which applies to players who are at least 28 years old and have been in the league for eight-plus seasons.
A potential separation from Peterson further demonstrates Sporting Kansas City’s desire to improve its production on the wings. Peterson, 30, had a career-best season in 2016, his fifth in Kansas City, scoring six goals in 18 starts. But the club plans to make the position its primary focus during the offseason.
In total, the roster shuffle leaves Sporting KC with 17 players currently under contract for the 2017 season: Abdul-Salaam, Matt Besler, Dom Dwyer, Roger Espinoza, Benny Feilhaber, Joya, Medranda, Tim Melia, Soni Mustivar, Olum, Ike Opara, Erik Palmer-Brown, Cameron Porter, Diego Rubio, Daniel Salloi, Sinovic and Graham Zusi.
Among the 11 players who started Sporting Kansas City’s playoff match in Seattle last month, nine are under contract for 2017. Ellis and Nagamura are the two who remain unsigned.