Sporting KC’s Roger Espinoza reflects on 2018, looks ahead to 2019
Sporting Kansas City is checking the items off its offseason wish list early this winter. And it’s plucking from a familiar location.
Sporting KC has agreed to a two-year contract with central defender Botond Barath.
Barath, 26, has spent his entire professional career with Budapest Honved FC, his hometown club in his native Hungary. He’s made 213 appearances with the club since 2009, including 18 this season.
Barath will depart Honved and officially join Sporting KC after the new year, occupying an international spot on the roster. There will be no transfer fee tied to his move to Kansas City, sources told The Star.
Barath joins a club that already has links to Hungary. Coach Peter Vermes spent a portion of his playing career there and routinely scouts the country for additions. Sporting KC forwards Krisztian Nemeth and Daniel Salloi are Hungarian. Like Salloi and Nemeth, Barath made appearances for the Hungary men’s national team this year.
He is a 6-foot-2, right-footed central defender who most likely slots into a spot vacated by the departure of Amer Didic. Sporting KC opted not to retain Didic, who was fourth on the depth chart for two starting central defender spots. Sporting KC, which finished first in the Western Conference during the regular season, already has captain Matt Besler, Ike Opara and Andreu Fontas.
“We need two high quality players at every single position,” Vermes told The Star earlier this month. “Going forward in this league, I think we have to have the capability of having two different teams. With the new schedule, I want to prepare the guys for the toll that’s going to take.”
On Monday, the league said the 34-game schedule will be condensed over a shorter time frame, forcing teams to play more mid-week games.
It’s prompted Sporting KC to supplement its 2019 roster, and Vermes is nearing completion of a two-year layout to improve the team’s depth. Just 20 days after its season ended in the Western Conference Finals, Sporting KC has acquired its top three offseason targets — a player in the center of the defense, an experienced left back and a change of pace forward.
Last week, Sporting KC signed free agent Rodney Wallace to a one-year contract. Wallace will compete with incumbent Seth Sinovic for the starting left back job. The team also traded a pair of draft picks to Vancouver for forward Erik Hurtado, who slides into an option off the bench.