Sporting KC

Get to know the 2019 Sporting Kansas City team and how it was built

Sporting Kansas City opens the 2019 schedule Thursday at Children’s Mercy Park, playing host to Deportivo Toluca in the CONCACAF Champions League. The MLS regular season is just 10 days away.

Let’s take a look at the club’s depth chart:

GOALKEEPERS

Tim Melia

Age: 32

Height/weight: 6-1, 190

How acquired: Signed in December 2014

What you should know: He was the MLS goalkeeper of the year in 2017, then recorded more shutouts (13), saves (106) and wins (18) in 2018.

Adrian Zendejas

Age: 23

Height/weight: 6-5, 185

How acquired: Signed in December 2016 after playing with the Swope Park Rangers the previous season

What you should know: Has never appeared in an MLS match but did win two U.S. Open Cup matches in 2018. If Melia gets a day off this year, Zendejas will be the guy.

Eric Dick

Age: 24

Height/weight: 6-5, 205

How acquired: Drafted in the first round (No. 13 overall) of the 2018 MLS SuperDraft

What you should know: Has never played for Sporting KC. Made 15 appearances for Swope Park last year, his first professional season, and posted four shutouts.

RIGHT BACK

Graham Zusi

Age: 32

Height/weight: 5-10, 160

How acquired: Drafted in the second round (No. 23 overall) of the 2009 MLS SuperDraft

What you should know: Made the MLS All-Star team for the sixth time last summer. His transition to right back has revolutionized the way Sporting KC plays. Zusi was one of four MLS players to play every possible minute last year.

Jaylin Lindsey

Age: 18

Height/weight: 5-8, 155

How acquired: Signed a homegrown contract in September 2017

What you should know: The homegrown up-and-coming talent made his MLS debut last year at left back, starting six games, but his natural spot is on the right side. He’s a regular with the United States youth national teams and is likely to be called up for the U-20 World Cup in May.

LEFT BACK

Rodney Wallace

Age: 30

Height/weight: 6-0, 175

How acquired: Signed as a free agent in December 2018

What you should know: He’s likely to get the first crack at the starting job. Like Zusi on the opposite side of the back line, Wallace played primarily as a winger before moving to outside back. He has 26 career MLS goals, splitting time in D.C., Portland and New York City.

Seth Sinovic

Age: 32

Height/weight: 5-10, 170

How acquired: Signed in May 2011

What you should know: Prolonging the cycle, Sporting KC once again provided Sinovic with early-season competition at left back last year before he won the job late in the season, starting 19 matches. The Rockhurst High School graduate has won four trophies with Sporting KC.

Jimmy Medranda

Age: 25

Height/weight: 5-8, 150

How acquired: Joined Sporting KC on loan in August 2013 before signing in February 2014

What you should know: Will be out until at least June with a knee injury suffered last year. Upon his return, he could be a depth piece on all three lines, but Sporting KC is likely to take it slow with him.

CENTER BACK

Matt Besler

Age: 32

Height/weight: 6-0, 170

How acquired: Drafted in the first round (No. 8 overall) of the 2009 MLS SuperDraft

What you should know: He has served as the captain for five years and last season became the franchise’s all-time leader in games played and games started.

Andreu Fontas

Age: 29

Height/weight: 6-1, 190

How acquired: Signed in August 2018

What you should know: The starting right central defender after the departure of Ike Opara, Fontas is known for his play on the ball. His athleticism won’t match Opara, but he could contribute to Sporting KC’s preference to highlight possession play.

Botond Barath

Age: 26

Height/weight: 6-2, 165

How acquired: Signed in December 2018

What you should know: He spent his entire career playing for his hometown club in Budapest, Hungary, before moving to Kansas City in the winter. Third on the center back depth chart, he should see minutes.

Abdul Rwatubyaye

Age: 22

Height/weight: 6-1, 175

How acquired: Signed in February 2019

What you should know: The first Rwandan player to join an MLS club. In six professional seasons, he won three Rwanda Premier League championships. He’s represented the national team 22 times.

Graham Smith

Age: 23

Height/weight: 6-3, 186

How acquired: Drafted in the first round (No. 18 overall) of the 2018 MLS SuperDraft

What you should know: Made two appearances in his first MLS season. He will likely spend the season with Swope Park.

MIDFIELDERS

Ilie Sanchez

Age: 28

Height/weight: 5-11, 170

How acquired: Signed in January 2017

What you should know: A rock in the midfield, Sanchez was one of four MLS players to play every available minute. He scored his first career four goals last season while taking over penalty-kick duties. Barring injury, he figures to lead the team in minutes played.

Felipe Gutierrez

Age: 28

Height/weight: 5-7, 145

How acquired: Signed as a designated player in February 2018

What you should know: He won the MLS player of the month award in his first month in MLS, but then he missed more than three months with a sports hernia injury. Gutierrez is Sporting KC’s highest-paid player.

Kelyn Rowe

Age: 27

Height/weight: 5-8, 150

How acquired: In a three-way trade, Sporting KC acquired Rowe in December 2018

What you should know: A player Sporting KC has tried to pry loose for quite some time, Rowe joins the club after seven seasons with New England. He had a down year in 2018 (1 goal, 2 assists), but he gives the team an extra attacking option in the midfield.

Roger Espinoza

Age: 32

Height/weight: 5-11, 170

How acquired: Drafted in the first round (No. 11 overall) of the 2008 MLS SuperDraft. After two years overseas, he returned in January 2015.

What you should know: In his age-31 season, Espinoza set career-highs in goals (three) and assists (nine).

Gianluca Busio

Age: 16

Height/weight: 5-7, 135

How acquired: Signed a homegrown contract in August 2017

What you should know: The top prospect from Sporting KC’s academy, Busio became the third-youngest player in league history to start a match. He scored once and also had an assist. He is a regular in the United States youth national team system and should be part of the U-17 World Cup this summer in Peru.

Wan Kuzain

Age: 20

Height/weight: 5-10, 160

How acquired: Signed a homegrown contract in April 2018

What you should know: He made his MLS debut last season as a teenager, scoring once in three starts. His primary position is a defensive midfield role.

WINGERS

Johnny Russell

Age: 28

Height/weight: 5-10, 168

How acquired: Transfer from English club Derby County FC in January 2018

What you should know: His first MLS season couldn’t have gone much better, with Russell winning the club’s offensive player of the year honor. He had 10 goals and 10 assists and recorded the eighth hat trick in club history.

Daniel Salloi

Age: 22

Height/weight: 6-1, 150

How acquired: Signed a homegrown contract in January 2016

What you should know: The Hungarian native had a breakout season in 2018, leading the team with 11 goals in MLS play and 16 across all competitions. He added seven assists.

Gerso Fernandes

Age: 27

Height/weight: 5-8, 140

How acquired: Signed in January 2017

What you should know: After leading the team with eight goals in 2017, Fernandes saw a dip in playing time in 2018 but still finished with five goals and five assists. He will be rotated in and out of the starting lineup.

Yohan Croizet

Age: 27

Height/weight: 5-10, 170

How acquired: Transfer from Belgian club KV Mechelen in December 2017

What you should know: As a designated player last year, Croizet didn’t provide the expected infusion into the offense, finishing with three goals and three assists. He can play on the wing or atop the midfield and also spotted a start at left back in last fall’s playoffs. Won the club’s goal of the year for a game-winning volley in an Open Cup match.

STRIKER

Krisztian Nemeth

Age: 30

Height/weight: 5-11, 165

How acquired: Sporting KC traded allocation money and a draft pick for Nemeth in August 2018

What you should know: The most successful season of Nemeth’s career came in his first stint in Kansas City in 2015, but he has struggled thus far in his return to MLS, scoring twice in the past 18 months. Sporting KC has opened up the starting striker job for him.

Erik Hurtado

Age: 28

Height/weight: 5-10, 185

How acquired: Sporting KC traded two draft picks to acquire Hurtado in December 2018

What you should know: The speed stands out most about Hurtado, who spent the past six seasons with Vancouver. He will be a change of pace option off the bench.

Tyler Freeman

Age: 16

Height/weight: 5-10, 150

How acquired: Signed a homegrown contract in October 2018

What you should know: In his first true professional season, Freeman will see most of his minutes with Swope Park. He’s capable of playing striker, winger or attacking midfielder. He’s the second-youngest player in club history.

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