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How to survive the Sporting KC offseason (and keep your sanity)

12/06/2012 12:33 PM

05/16/2014 8:29 PM

This offseason poses one of the toughest challenges yet for Peter Vermes and Co. It's already off to a fast start with several high-profile players out (with some more the subject of rumors).

Here's the basic storyline for the next few months: Kansas City needs to not only continue to improve its roster -- namely, finding the pieces that can finally get them over the hump (and the Houston Dynamo) and into the MLS Cup in 2013 -- but Vermes and Co. will need to build a roster capable of competing on three fronts: The MLS regular season, CONCACAF Champions League and defending its U.S. Open Cup trophy.

How will you cope with the often confusing rumors, the even more confusing MLS roster rules and the general uncertainty that the next few weeks will bring? (There are other side-effects to the MLS offseason. Stir-craziness is inevitable. Longing for the start of the season is assured. Debating expensive trips to preseason locales.)

Hopefully, you can follow these four easy steps and make it to March without any emotional scars.

Step 1: Relax.

But Roger Espinoza is gone! Matt Besler is unsigned and Euro teams are sniffing around! Julio Cesar is out! Michael Harrington is now with the Timbers! Sporting has just a handful of trusted defenders under contract!

Take a deep breath. I know. You can't press the update button on Twitter fast enough. You're gobbling up "news" from every outlet you can find. If you're new to this or even if this isn't your first rodeo, it's all a bit, um, overwhelming.

You think you're all right, hop on Twitter and then, before you know it, you're googling "out-of-contract" Spanish attacking midfielders in their earlier 20s. (Or worse:

Guti

.)

In sports, roster turnover isn't anything new. It's especially more prevalent in soccer with limited roster space, thousands of available players and multiple player-movement windows. It doesn't help that "news" these days is whatever someone types in on Twitter with the five characters that spell out "rumor" in it.

I understand KC skepticism after watching 10+ years of the Royals and Chiefs promise to change things every offseason with no payoff. However, Sporting KC hasn't had those same issues the last four years -- each season has seen improvement from the last.

In the past four years alone, Kansas City have said goodbye to club legends (Jimmy Conrad, Davy Arnaud, Kevin Hartman, Josh Wolff), superstars (Omar Bravo), talented players who needed a new venue (Jack Jewsbury), talented players who blossomed spectacularly in a new setting (Herculez Gomez), talented players who became increasingly frustrating (Ryan Smith), talented players who didn't fit the system (Jeferson, Milos Stojcev), and underdog fan-favorites beloved for their underdog status (Birahim Diop).

While some of those losses stung (I'm still learning to accept the Diop departure; I'm taking it one day and a time), letting go of some of those players paved the way for the team that made KC an Eastern Conference powerhouse.

Jimmy Nielsen took over for Hartman. Dumping Conrad made way, eventually, for Besler. Trading Jewsbury opened up playing time for Graham Zusi. (You could argue that just by signing Jeferson and handing him the starting midfield job it pushed Zusi to become what he is.) Letting Arnaud walk freed up room for Espinoza. The mistakes of Stojcev and Smith opened the door for Jacob Peterson and Paulo Nagamura.

What we don't know: What if Espinoza's exit unleashes Peterson Joseph for an entire season as the creative force this team has needed? Or Oriol Rosell claims Cesar's spot and doesn't ever let it go? (I'll grant you the Besler situation is a bit murkier and more stressful. But, remember, in May 2010 we weren't even sure if Besler had a future with the club after a disastrous 4-1 loss to Los Angeles. Perspective is very important.)

These things are cyclical and impossible to judge as they are happening. I realize that's weird in this superlative world where everything has to immediately be the best/worst/most something or other.

Which is why it's important to relax.

Enjoy the ride.

Until the preseason starts in 46 days. Then it's OK to start getting stressed out again.

Step 2: Know the Score

Major League Soccer is a confusing league with a dozen different drafts, international slots, allocation money and complex roster designations. Even those of us who follow the league closely can get a little flustered by the complexity of it all. (

Discovery signings?

)

Before you start your transition into a future career as an amateur Sporting Accountant, make sure you study the most-recent

MLS Player's Union salaries , the MLS roster rules* and understand how an http://www.mlssoccer.com/2012-mls-roster-rules" target="_blank">MLS roster

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