In the initial few days following Sporting Kansas City’s early exit from the postseason, coach Peter Vermes discussed the ensuing effects of a disappointing conclusion, a looming expansion draft and a handful of out-of-contract players.
The most substantial impact, he vowed, would come in the form of roster changes.
Those changes kicked into high gear Monday.
During a half-day trading window, the club made three deals, the heaviest of which sent veteran defender Aurelien Collin to Orlando City SC in exchange for allocation money and future considerations.
Sporting KC also traded forward C.J. Sapong to Philadelphia for a 2015 first-round draft pick and acquired Columbus midfielder Bernardo Anor for allocation money.
“It’s a situation where we had to make some tough decisions about the future of our team today, given a lot of different mechanisms that are in play,” Vermes said. “They were difficult deals to make.”
More changes could be on the way, too.
The MLS will hold an expansion draft Wednesday for incoming clubs Orlando City SC and New York City FC. On Monday afternoon, Sporting KC announced its list of 11 players protected from selection in that draft: Matt Besler, Igor Juliao, Chance Myers, Ike Opara, Seth Sinovic, Anor, Benny Feilhaber, Jimmy Medranda, Paulo Nagamura, Graham Zusi and Dom Dwyer.
That leaves four players under contract for 2015 who are available for selection Wednesday — Jorge Claros, Christian Duke, Martin Steuble and Claudio Bieler.
The expansion draft, along with an inability to reach a new contract agreement, necessitated a swift resolution with Collin. Sporting KC would have needed to use one of its protection spots to prevent Collin from being selected in the expansion draft — even though he is out of contract this offseason — or risk losing him to Orlando City for free.
Collin, who joined Sporting KC in 2011, was seeking a raise on the $275,000 he earned in 2014. That number loomed particularly large for a club that handed out significant raises to Graham Zusi and Matt Besler over the summer.
“We tried everything we could to do a new deal (with Collin), but as we’re trying to build a team for next year, it was going to be very difficult to accomplish based on what he was looking for in a contract,” Vermes said. “We were unable to come to an (agreement). At that point, we had to make a decision to get value for the future.”
The decision to trade Sapong, a 2011 first-round draft pick, was even more closely tied to the upcoming expansion draft.
Vermes said he struggled to find room to use one of his 11 protection spots on Sapong. And while Sapong endured career-worst numbers in appearances (20), starts (seven) and goals (two) in 2014, his tall, athletic frame — and relatively cheap contract — may have been an attractive fit for Orlando City SC or New York City FC.
“We were going to have to leave him unprotected, so we wanted to get some value for him,” Vermes said.
The departure of Sapong and Collin were offset by one key addition Monday.
Anor scored six goals in 27 appearances with the Crew this season after a four-goal campaign in 2013. He split time between a left midfield role and a central attacking role.
As part of the trade agreement, Sporting KC worked out a new contract with Anor, who will occupy one of the team’s international roster spots.
“I’ve always liked him,” Vermes said. “He has a lot of versatility, and he’s an extremely athletic guy. He’s been a very good player in the league for quite some time now. I think he’s going to be an asset to our team because he can play in a lot of different places.”