Yesterday, Sporting Kansas City added three players to their roster. (Well, four if you note the "agreement in principle" of right back Michael Harrington. Five if you count defender/midfielder Luke Sassano agreeing to terms Wednesday night.)
C.J. Sapong is a forward expected to provide the team depth (and likely cover if Teal Bunbury makes a European switch in a few years), J.T. Murray is a leftback who gives the team an option behind Roger Espinoza and Konrad Warzycha is a midfielder who now makes a matchup with the Columbus Crew (coached by his dad, Robert) more interesting.**I nominate that we call Warzycha "K.W.", just so we can dub them the "Initial Class." Yeah? Who's with me? Up top! One more completely worthless thought: Did the team draft Warzycha because they wanted to stick it to his dad and Columbus OR did KC really want to have a guy named Konrad on the roster in 2011 and hope no one noticed it wasn't the same Conrad?
None of the three project as starters, which, given the position KC drafted, shouldn't be surprising. There usually aren't a lot of "impact players" coming from college to the pros. Unlike the NFL or the NBA, there's a much wider gap between college soccer and pro soccer in this country.**Remember, it took Teal Bunbury -- the No. 4 pick last year -- six months before he caught up to the speed and physicality of MLS. And, even then, he couldn't cement himself into a starting spot.
So, the team opted for this strategy:Draft depth, sign starters.
* It might take a while to see how that strategy pays off.*Sporting president Robb Heineman tweeted at the end of the day: "Good progress today. Harrington done. 3 good cover picks. 2 SI verbal commitments in the back. Now the hard part - sign the contract."
Enough of my thoughts, what did the MLS Cognoscenti think?
gave our Sportos a "C+" rating saying:
"Sapong is a big, bruising forward who could really help Sporting's depth up top. Murray will fill in at outside back while KC look for center back help in the international market. "
•Sports Illustrated's Avi Creditor
wasn't a fan of KC's pick, but then makes a pretty decent point at the end.
"This pick seemed like a reach on a number of levels. First, with higher-regarded Generation adidas strikers like Bruin and Hertzog still on the board, Sapong wasn't the best player at his position left. Second, adding a forward was not the biggest priority for SKC, which already has Teal Bunbury, Kei Kamara and Omar Bravo. That said, Sapong brings pace to the wing and could be a decent player on the outside of a 4-3-3."
• Well, at least Creditor mentioned Omar Bravo, unlike his SI co-hortSteve Davis
(who also didn't like the pick). To be fair to Davis, it tends to take him a while to notice KC made off-season moves.*
"It was a little surprising that Sapong (10th overall) went before fellow strikers Will Bruin and Corey Hertzog. But Sapong is a great athlete and, when partnered with some combination of Teal Bunbury, Kei Kamara and Ryan Smith, will mean a lot of speed and power on the front line at that new stadium in the Midwest."*In case you don't remember, this was what Davis had to say at Daily Soccer Fix on the eve last season: "13. Kansas City: Manager Peter Vermes likes the personnel and elected not to make many changes. I think that was a mistake – but that’s why they play these games. Prove me wrong, Pete!" I'll give him the benefit of the doubt, in his Sports Illustrated preview last year, he did mention Ryan Smith and Igor Kostrov. Remember Kostrov?
• Closer to home,Down the Byline
wasn't a big fan of Sapong at first either (noticing a trend?) but came around to at least understanding it by the end of the day. It's not a glowing recommendation though:
"As you can see I'm still really torn with this pick, I see the ability for Sapong in the Wizards 4-3-3, and understand the lack of another great prospect there, but taking a forward, one that likely would have been there later in the round or early second still doesn't sit well with me."
•The Back Post
has Vermes' thoughts on the selections. Including this:
"We had two guys we had identified for the tenth pick, one was Sapong and one was Jalil Anibaba. So we were interested in both and both could fit. We are extremely happy with CJ. We think what he does is he fits very well into the way we play from an attack perspective. We think he has a pretty high ceiling here in this league."
• Here about the three new players from their own mouths:Sapong: Murray Warzycha
• Read more about the drafthere or here
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