Sporting Kansas City will have a new captain next season, but it will also welcome back an old friend.
The team announced Monday that it had traded midfielder Davy Arnaud — its longest-tenured player — to the Montreal Impact for defender Seth Sinovic and allocation money.
There was a belief last week that Sporting coach Peter Vermes was working to bring Sinovic – who was taken by Montreal in Wednesday’s expansion draft – back into the fold. But while Vermes didn’t seem terribly optimistic about the possibility of a Sinovic return at the time, he obviously found a way to get it done.
“I’m pleased as can be to have Seth back on our roster,” Vermes said of the 24-year old Leawood native, who was signed as a free agent in May and went on to start 20 games. “To now have additional allocation money and roster space gives us a lot of flexibility.”
That flexibility came with a cost, however. Arnaud was the team’s captain for the last two years and a player whose experience was valued in the locker room. Several young players who broke out this year — such as defender Matt Besler — credited Arnaud for helping them grow as players.
However, Arnaud never made his way back into the full-time starting lineup after he missed a significant chunk of time this season with a groin injury. This effectively made him a high-paid backup, and while he never complained publicly about his lack of playing time, he was adamant that he was 90 minutes fit.
“This is probably the best thing for both parties, and I wish him the best,” Vermes said.
“In an ideal world, you could play whole career in one place,” Arnaud said. “But at the end of the day, with the way the season ended for me personally, I’m at the stage of my career where I still want to be playing regularly. I still feel like I can be a main guy.
“Sometimes you’ve got to move on,” he said. “A different situation is going to be good for me. It’s a challenge, but I’m looking forward to it.”
However, all of this does lead to one critical question: if Arnaud was going all along, why not protect Sinovic and leave the veteran forward unprotected in last week’s expansion draft?
Vermes wouldn’t elaborate, but by protecting Arnaud — whom Montreal really wanted in the first place — he was able to keep the player he wanted (Sinovic) and get some additional money out of it.
In Arnaud’s absence, Vermes says Besler, goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen, forward Kei Kamara, defender Júlio César and forward Omar Bravo — whose return in 2012 remains questionable — could be in the mix to wear the captain’s armband next year.
Nielsen signs extension
Sporting has signed goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen to a contract extension.
The extension will keep Nielsen, 34, in Kansas City through 2013 with an option for 2014. Vermes said Nielsen had a team option for 2012 that was eventually rendered irrelevant.“There was never a question that I wanted to stay, after Peter told me that he would like me here as well,” Nielsen said in a statement. “I’ve only had Sporting on my mind, and I’m excited to play in front of our fans for the next couple of years that lie ahead as we work towards winning a championship.”
Nielsen, who joined the team in 2010, started 31 matches and posted a goals-against average of 1.14 this season, when he was named the team’s MVP.
Vermes said that after speaking with Nielsen, who was believed to be considering retirement, he believes the veteran keeper will play two more years, minimum.