Sporting Kansas City coach Peter Vermes knew the addition of Montreal as Major League Soccer’s 19th team in 2012 would force him to leave some players he likes unprotected in Wednesday’s expansion draft.
Turns out he was right. Monday was the deadline for teams to protect a maximum of 11 players, and among the players Sporting chose to leave out there for the taking was star designated player Omar Bravo and defender Seth Sinovic.
Vermes could not be reached for comment — he said through a club official that he will not speak publicly until the expansion draft is over on Wednesday — but the decision to leave Bravo unprotected is intriguing.
The 31-year old Mexican forward made a considerable impact his first year in Kansas City, tying for the team-high with nine goals. However, he recently complained to a Mexican television station about the way Vermes handled his minutes in the playoffs, and while Vermes said recently that he was optimistic Bravo would return, it is also believed the likelihood of Montreal taking Bravo in the draft is slim because he is an expensive designated player.
However, the choice to make Sinovic available was surprising. Vermes found the second-year pro off the free-agent scrap heap in May, then watched as Sinovic — whose skills at left back fit the team’s system well — wound up starting 20 games.
Montreal could also see value in goalkeeper Eric Kronberg, forward Soony Saad and defender Michael Harrington. Saad is a gifted young forward just now entering his 20s, while Kronberg has been impressive in limited action. Harrington was one of the team’s best players in 2010 before he lost his starting job.
Other players available for Montreal — which can only take one from each team – include midfielder Jéferson — Sporting’s other designated player who made a minimal impact since his summer arrival — midfielder Birahim Diop, midfielder Craig Rocastle and midfielder Miloš Stojčev.
This also means Sporting chose to keep goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen, defender Júlio César and midfielder Davy Arnaud, with Arnaud being a bit of a surprise because of his large salary and diminished role down the stretch.
But Vermes chose to keep him, along with talented young players like forward Teal Bunbury, defender Matt Besler, defender Aurélien Collin, midfielder Roger Espinoza, defender Chance Myers, forward C.J. Sapong, midfielder Graham Zusi and forward Kei Kamara.
Also, per league rules, Sporting did not have to protect defender Kevin Ellis and goalkeeper Jon Kempin, its two homegrown players.
Smith dealt to Chivas
Ryan Smith’s tenure in Kansas City is officially over.
In what is the first of what figures to be a series of moves of the next two days, Sporting traded the talented-but-mercurial midfielder to Chivas USA Monday for a first- and third-round pick in the 2012 Supplemental Draft.
Vermes, who is thought to be working on several other deals at this time, made the move shortly before the trade window closed Monday afternoon. It will open again Wednesday, after the expansion draft.
The 25-year-old Brit left the team in June for what the team called undisclosed family reasons, but he’d been struggling with injuries and fitness issues all season long. He missed the first four games of this season while recovering from offseason knee surgery, and was dealing with a groin strain when he was released on June 21.
It marked a disappointing end to the 2011 season for Smith, who scored one goal in only six matches. He was much better for the club in 2010, when he recorded three goals and seven assists in 26 games in his first season with the team.
The supplemental draft will take place Jan. 17.