An initially slow-moving offseason for Sporting Kansas City has ramped up over the past couple of days. A good time for a mailbag.
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There were a lot of questions along this line when I requested topics earlier this week. I had an answer queued up when you all asked them, but now I can provide the never-subtle self-promoting links instead.
Sporting KC announced a loan for defender Igor Juliao on Friday, and it’s looking likely the club will soon finalize deals with wingers Gerso Fernandes and Latif Blessing.
I don’t think that will be the end of offseason moves. There are still a couple of spots the team would like to improve.
This is a hard one to predict. Homegrown product Erik Palmer-Brown, 19, is on loan with FC Porto in Portugal through Dec. 31.
From what I hear, FC Porto has been pleased with his stint there and therefore could be interested in turning the loan into a full purchase. But that would take an agreement from Sporting KC, and the two sides have not worked out a deal. Thus, the plan as of this writing is for Palmer-Brown to return to Kansas City in 2017.
If Palmer-Brown does stick with Sporting KC, the club expects to utilize him. It no longer makes sense for him to be stashed on the bench. So if he’s here, I would expect him to see some time and fight for a starting spot by the end of the year. Wherever he plays, this is a big year for his development. There’s never been a shortage of talent there.
Graham Zusi will provide an intriguing storyline to follow this preseason. With two aforementioned wingers likely coming to Kansas City, where does Zusi fit in? Does he keep his regular starting spot?
It’s no secret Sporting KC is at its collective best when Zusi is rolling. Those moments have been less consistent over the past two seasons, but Zusi is a driven player who has been at the crux of this team’s past success. He will do all he can to stay in the lineup, but that task just became tougher.
A chance? Yes. Depending on how the remainder of the offseason unfolds, I think another one or two players could be signed to fill out the roster, most likely in the midfield. Regardless, a few more should join Sporting KC in the preseason, as was the case last year.
Nansel Selbol is fast, skilled and intently focused on launching a career with Sporting KC. There’s a lot to like there. But he doesn’t turn 20 until May. So your thinking here is right — he’s not a short-term fix, but the club is hopeful he’s part of the long-term solution.
Sporting KC loaned 20-year-old forward Daniel Salloi to Hungarian club Gyirmot FC Gyor last July. The strategy behind this move was quite simple — Salloi is trying to work his way into the Hungary national team program, and the best way to do that was to play games in his home country.
The intention is for Salloi to be back with Sporting KC in 2017.
We’ve talked already about the offensive targets.
As for center back, Matt Besler remains in the team’s anchor of the back line moving forward, and the coaching staff was pleased with Kevin Ellis’ progression late in 2016. It’s also likely Ike Opara will be a significant contributor after playing a full healthy year in 2016. Palmer-Brown could emerge as a contributor. Sporting KC is currently focused on other areas.
Thank you for the questions. Until next time.