With the majority of Major League Soccer's various drafts and player-adding mechanisms complete and preseason just around the corner (the first game is Jan. 28 -- next week), it's time to start taking a serious look at the status of Sporting Kansas City's 2014 roster.
In the MLS SuperDraft, Sporting KC added forward Adnan Gabeljic (#38), defender Peter Schmetz (#41), and midfielders Alex Martinez (#57) and Reinaldo Brenes (#76).
Will any of those guys make the roster this year? According to technical director and head coach Peter Vermes, "It's going to be hard for anyone to make our team at this point."
Of course, he didn't mean that in a negative way for any of the guys drafted. It's just reality for the reigning MLS Cup champions. The roster is relatively set and, as of this moment, only four players have officially left the team -- Jimmy Nielsen via retirement and Federico Bessone, Brendan Ruiz and Kyle Miller were all waived.
Currently, Sporting Kansas City has 28 players listed on the team's official roster. There are two unknowns: Chance Myers is currently out of contract and Colombian reserve midfielder Jimmy Medranda was on loan last season from Deportivo Pereira. I'm keeping those two on the roster until further notice. I assume the four draft picks in that number, who I didn't count in the official number, will travel to camp, but there's no guarantee that all four will travel with the team.
Of course, I suspect there will be a few "trialists" tagging along to training in Arizona, because there always are.
The five Sporting players with the U.S. national team -- Benny Feilhaber, Graham Zusi, Matt Besler, Chance Myers and Seth Sinovic -- will not join the team immediately, as they are training in Brazil.
Keep in mind that this is a preliminary exercise based solely off roster information available. It's subject (and likely) to change a bit as we get closer to March.
Goalkeepers (3)Andy Gruenebaum, Jon Kempin, Eric Kronberg Additions: Gruenebaum (acquired from Columbus in exchange for KC's second-round pick in the 2016 MLS SuperDraft)
Jimmy Nielsen (retired)Looming Question:
Who's going to be the No. 1? The first few weeks probably won't reveal the answer. I'd suspect we'll know more once the team gets to Orlando.
Defenders (9)Matt Besler, Aurelien Collin, Kevin Ellis, Josh Gardner, Mechack Jerome, Chance Myers, Ike Opara, Erik Palmer-Brown, Seth Sinovic Additions: None
Losses: Bessone, Miller and Ruiz
Since KC didn't draft a fullback in the SuperDraft, do we take that as a sign that negotiations with Myers are going well? Is Collin -- he was the subject of European rumors to close the season -- going to be back? Losing two members of KC's vaunted back line would be hard to overcome, even with solid backups like Opara and Jerome.
Midfielders (10)Christian Duke, Benny Feilhaber, Peterson Joseph, Mikey Lopez, Jimmy Medranda, Paulo Nagamura, Lawrence Olum, Oriol Rosell, Sal Zizzo, Graham Zusi Additions: Zizzo (acquired from Portland in exchange for allocation money)
Martinez, BrenesLooming Question:
Is there another player coming? KC were quite thin in the middle by the end of the season, and Zizzo doesn't figure to be a piece for the midfield, he's an out-and-out winger.
Forwards (6)Claudio Bieler, Teal Bunbury, Dom Dwyer, Jacob Peterson, Soony Saad, C.J. Sapong Additions: None
Oh, there are so many. Is Bunbury fully recovered from an ACL injury? Was Sapong suffering from a slump last season or actually regressing after a stellar start to his career? Will Bieler get back into Vermes' good graces and take back his starting spot from Dwyer? Will Bieler even be back (there have been rumors)? Do fans even want Bieler back? Can Dwyer keep improving? Will his head still be in the game after his loan deal in England fell through this winter? Can Saad get back into the mix after falling out of favor in the playoffs? In 2013, Kansas City's forwards were bailed out during the summer by the temporary return of Kei Kamara and then by Collin's goal-scoring abilities in the playoffs. There has to be another signing in the works up top, doesn't there?
Even though Kansas City ended the season with the league's top trophy, the club certainly isn't short of questions in need of answering this preseason.