Sporting KC

Moving on from Croizet saga, Sporting KC set sights on Minnesota United

Jogging onto the field at Yankee Stadium as an 88th-minute substitute against New York City FC on July 26, nothing seemed amiss for Yohan Croizet. He registered one shot on goal and was fouled during a two-minute cameo in Sporting Kansas City’s 3-1 loss in the Big Apple.

But almost two months later, the midfielder had failed to register another minute for Sporting KC before his contract was mutually terminated on Monday afternoon.

With little explanation coming from the club itself, fans were left wondering what had happened for Croizet to be frozen out after signing at the start of the 2018 season as a designated player. His stint in KC had been underwhelming, but it was puzzling to see the team jettison a player who’d commanded a sizable portion of the payroll.

Initially, Croizet’s sudden disappearance from the matchday squad could be chalked up to poor performance — he had scored just eight goals and registered only five assists in 62 appearances (31 starts) during his time in Kansas City.

But cryptic tweets from the Frenchman made his disappearance all the more mysterious.

“Soon I will talk #Beready,” read one tweet on July 27. The tweet was deleted shortly after.

croizettweet.jpg

Sporting KC manager Peter Vermes said only that he and Croizet had discussions regarding his future at the club, and those discussions led to a mutual decision.

“We just mutually terminated our situation, our relationship, between him playing here and him playing for us,” Vermes said. “Wish him nothing but the best, and that’s really it.”

Initially brought in as a replacement for Benny Feilhaber — who has since returned from LAFC — Croizet was pushed out of his natural spot in the central midfield in favor of Felipe Gutierrez, who arrived on a free transfer shortly after Croizet was signed.

Sitting on the periphery of the squad, Croizet was forced to play in a number of unnatural positions, including striker and winger.

One of the few times Croizet has opened up about his personal life was during an interview with The Athletic on July 11. He admitted to having a close relationship with his family back in France, to the point where he would travel there to visit his mother every weekend while he was playing in Belgium.

With the two-month Croizet saga seemingly over, Vermes is concentrating on Sporting KC’s clash at Minnesota United Wednesday night. Advanced metrics give Sporting a 0.3% chance of making the MLS playoffs — the club is seven points below the playoff line with nine points remaining.

“(Minnesota is) a good team — they play well at home,” Vermes said. “Good defensively and good up front, and so we just have to be concentrating on both sides of the ball.”

And while this game is another must-win, Vermes is left with several selection headaches, including his center back pairing following Matt Besler’s dismissal against Colorado and subsequent one-game ban. Vermes said Monday that he was yet to decide who will replace Besler due to the short rest between games.

He also said he wasn’t sure how his squad will respond following Saturday’s 3-2 loss to Colorado.

“I don’t know, I don’t know,” Vermes said. “I can’t answer the question. I’d like to say that I know the answer to it, but there’s been a lot of ups and downs in regards to how we’ve reacted.”

Kickoff at Minnesota United’s Allianz Field is 7 p.m. Wednesday.

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