A critical winter lies ahead for Sporting Kansas City after its first-round playoff loss last month.
I documented the numerous factors that will play into the club’s decision-making over the next couple of months, and I also wrote about Sporting Kansas City’s offseason wish list. Both of those remain accurate two weeks later.
So let’s move on to whatever else in your mind...
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Money. You’re right — that question that has many layers, but the most obvious is answer is dollars and cents. For Sporting KC to solve the offensive problems that derailed what could have been a special 2017 season, it’s going to take a financial investment. And maybe even a significant one.
The hardest thing to do in soccer is score goals. The most expensive position globally is a goal scorer. Sporting KC coach Peter Vermes said he thinks his team created enough scoring chances in 2017, a pretty obvious hint that the philosophy is likely to remain unchanged. He blames the finishing. And he doesn’t believe the solution to that inefficiency is currently on the roster.
It’s becoming harder and harder to find those under-the-radar producers on the free transfer market. The rest of the league, as a whole, is steadily increasing payroll to reflect that. Will Sporting KC follow suit? I think it will spend more this offseason than it has in the past, but it might need to spend A LOT more. Simply allocating the Dom Dwyer funds toward a striker is a band-aid solution to a problem that necessitates more serious treatment.
While Sporting KC has some potential trade candidates — Kevin Ellis, Saad Abdul-Salaam and anyone the club might not protect in the upcoming expansion draft — I don’t expect the club to seek significant contributors via this avenue. Sporting Kansas City’s concentration remains overseas.
Yes. The final decision for the next U.S. Soccer men’s national team coach will, of course, depend on whoever wins the U.S. Soccer presidency in February. Regardless, I fully expect Peter Vermes to receive an interview. If he wants one. It’s nearly impossible to predict whether he’ll be a preferred choice without knowing who will be in charge of the hire.
A hypothetical about a hypothetical. I’m impressed. He’d be in the leader in the clubhouse.
Look for an offseason trade involving Kevin Ellis. It would be nothing short of a shock to see him back in Kansas City next year after the two sides mutually agreed on a leave of absence in the middle of the season.
There’s been no indication that Sporting Kansas City is interested in purchasing FC Kansas City, the local women’s professional soccer team. That was true a year ago, when FCKC was for sale. And I’m told there are still no current discussions about this possibility.
These types of situations can change — what if U.S. Soccer were to step in and make it a more attractive purchase for Sporting KC? — but as of right now, that’s the latest update. Or non-update.
1. This club is built around Peter Vermes’ vision — both short- and long-term. That’s not changing. But he has help. Brian Bliss is the director of player personnel, and he wouldn’t have that job if he didn’t have the trust of Vermes. Former assistant technical director Mike Jacobs did too, before he left this summer to take the controls in Nashville. There’s similar delegation on the coaching side. Ultimately, the final decisions are sticking with Vermes.
2. We’ve already talked FCKC. The Swope Park Rangers are almost certainly going to have to find a new home in 2018, with the United Soccer League ready to implement requirements for teams to play inside larger stadiums.
The Rangers will play somewhere. The club is viewed as an integral part of Sporting Kansas City’s long-term plan — so they won’t just fold. But it’s just not yet clear exactly where. Several options have been discussed on both sides of the state line. Playing at Children’s Mercy Park is an option, though not a preferred one. One rumor you can cross off the list: It’s highly unlikely Swope Soccer Village will be expanded to accommodate the new requirements.
That’s a tough one to answer. A lot of moving parts — will Erik Palmer-Brown have a desire to return sometime down the line? If so, when? What will he have accomplished internationally by then?
But your question was more “likely,” not which is certain, so I’ll give it a shot. Sporting KC maintains his rights.
I don’t envision Sporting KC outright shopping Benny Feilhaber, but they wouldn’t exactly hit the ignore button if someone called with a proposal, either.
1. MLS released the format Tuesday.
3. No. The options are mentioned above. But those of us who attended the USL Western Conference final at Children’s Mercy Park know it didn’t exactly instill confidence that a venue change would increase attendance. I think 2,000 people in a 5,000-seat stadium makes for a better environment than the same size crowd in an 18,000-seat venue.
4. Joe’s, Q39, Jackstack. In that order.
That’s it for now. We’ll do it again this offseason.