Sporting KC

Khiry Shelton unlikely to be back with Sporting KC in 2019

The players who most often comprised Sporting Kansas City’s starting lineup this year are in line to return in 2019.

Except one.

Forward Khiry Shelton is set to depart the team in search of fulfilling his desire to play overseas, Sporting KC coach Peter Vermes told The Star.

Shelton, who led the club’s strikers with 15 starts, has not disclosed his landing spot, but this much his clear: He is unlikely to be in Kansas City in 2019.

“He’s had a dream of always playing in Europe,” Vermes said. “From everything I understand, and I’ll let him speak more on it, he has an opportunity, and that’s what he’s going to pursue in the short term.”

Shelton, who could not be immediately reached for comment, was out of contract this offseason. Sporting KC offered him an extension and will therefore retain his MLS rights if he chooses to return to the league.

In his only season in Kansas City, Shelton, 25, scored twice and had five assists in 20 league appearances. Sporting KC acquired him last December in a trade with New York City FC in which defender Saad Abdul-Salaam was shipped east.

After Sporting KC failed to land a high-dollar striker last winter, Shelton assumed the starting role for the majority of the season, with the exception of a stretch in which a knee injury sidelined him. He scored just twice, but the team performed admirably with him in the lineup. Sporting KC was 9-2-4 when Shelton started matches.

Diego Rubio scored eight goals for Sporting KC this season, more than any other striker on the roster, despite starting just nine games. The club also acquired Krisztian Nemeth during the summer transfer window and plans to offer him more playing time next season. Nemeth scored once in nine appearances, four of them starts.

“I feel comfortable with the position,” Vermes said. “But that doesn’t mean I’m closed off. If I have the ability to improve the team, no matter what the position is, if it makes sense for us, I’m going to do it.”

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