Whether he's taken in the expansion draft this afternoon or allowed to leave the club in the next few weeks (he's currently out of contract) and take part in the MLS Re-Entry Draft (and, join another MLS team), I fully expect the Jimmy Conrad Era in Kansas City to have reached its end.*
*Worth noting, this post is not based on any insider information; just speculation on my part. Also, this is the first of several italicized interstitials. Fair warning on both accounts.
The thought of the JC Era ending in KC is sort of depressing. But not surprising. The writing is kinda on the wall, and has been for some time.
• Rumors swirled around the MLS SuperDraft last January that he was on the trading block and those rumors were too wide-spread to be "just rumors."
• I've heard from two different sources that D.C. United (before Curt Onalfo's departure) was very interested in him this year.
• Kansas City head coach Peter Vermes stripped him of his captaincy this off-season, bestowing the honor on Davy Arnaud (and appointing newly signed Stephane Auvray the vice captain) and, for what it's worth, Conrad handled the decision like a complete pro.
• When asked about Conrad's status in a live chat on Friday, Sporting Kansas City president Robb Heineman responded with the simple, "Jimmy is out of contract."
There's also the distressing situation of Kansas City's deficiencies in the back-line this year. While those problems subsided with the addition of Shavar Thomas next to Conrad, those problems didn't completely go away. Heineman has said that improving the defense is a team priority. (That might explain the reports of
a French defender
linked to joining the team.)
These, to me, all point to the exit of a fan favorite.*
*Which makes his inclusion at the rebrand announcement to sport the new kit interesting, to say the least.
So what happens next? The Portland/Vancouver expansion draft is this afternoon (12:45 p.m.)* and that should either make things very clear (he's drafted, we wish him the best) or very murky (he signs a new SKC contract or goes into the confusing Re-Entry Draft process).
*Unless, of course, this is like the release of the protected lists on Monday... then the draft might not happen until 6 p.m. or maybe sometime in December.
Will he be drafted this afternoon?* It's hard to see the Whitecaps taking Conrad, as they've already got a slow-footed, physical, USMNT-capped veteran defender in Jay DeMeritt. But Portland could use a plug-and-play defender (and potential captain candidate), and JC fits that bill.
*I personally think that Shavar Thomas and Eric Kronberg are the two Sporting KC players most likely to be taken today. Conrad is a close third; Chance Myers is fourth. I also think that, if Thomas/Conrad/Kronberg are drafted ahead of him, Myers will be the first player pulled back by the team.
The other option awaiting Jimmy is the Re-Entry Draft (which,
read it here
, is as confusing as the plot to "Mulholland Dr"). That process will begin Dec. 8.
Either way, this is sadly probably all she wrote for one of the best players in Kansas City soccer history (Top 5? Top 10? Top 15? Share your thoughts in the comments. I say Top 6.). He came to the team in 2003, was named the MLS Best XI four times, an All-Star five times, a Defender of the Year finalist four times (winning it in '05) and was the 2009 MLS Humanitarian of the Year. He's also very media-friendly, funny (JimmyConrad.com and his podcast are both fantastic) and easily the most-recognizable player off-the-field.
If this is the end for JC, it's truly the end of an era in KC.