The Full 90

With move in draft, Sporting KC adds depth at defense, midfield

One of the worst-kept secrets this offseason for Sporting Kansas City became much more than rumor Tuesday during the MLS Supplemental Draft as the club traded its fourth-round pick for veteran midfielder Michael Thomas.

Thomas, 23, won’t officially join the Sporting KC roster until today when the league office is expected to approve his contract, but there’s little doubt his acquisition was central to the club’s continued roster remake.

Trading the No. 73 overall selection to San Jose, Sporting KC acquired the rights to Thomas, an Overland Park native and the Earthquakes’ second-round selection from the 2010 SuperDraft.

Thomas, who played at St. Thomas Aquinas and was teammates with Matt Besler at Notre Dame, never signed with San Jose, playing the last two seasons with Halmstads BK in Sweden instead.

“We liked Michael when he was at Notre Dame,” Sporting KC manager Peter Vermes said. “We were looking to draft him actually, but we missed out when San Jose took him.”

While the impending addition of Thomas might have made the biggest wave, Sporting KC also added through the middle and defensive thirds for training camp, which kicks off Monday.

During the first round, Sporting KC tapped Shawn Singh, a left back from UCLA. The club added two other defenders, Valparaiso’s Stefan Antonijevic and Rockhurst’s Kyle Miller, along with St. John’s midfielder Pablo Punyed.

“Whether it’s two rounds or four rounds of the SuperDraft and then the supplemental draft, we’re always still trying to improve our depth from the bottom up,” Vermes said. “Today, we got some guys that are interesting.”

Singh, who was selected 16th overall, is a left back who loves to thrust himself into the attack. Vermes lauded his passing and technical skills as well as his soccer IQ.

“I feel like I’m a pretty dynamic,” Singh said. “Now, I’m excited to get into camp and start working with Sporting Kansas City. This is all I have ever wanted to do.”

Of course, as with the rest of the draft picks, no roster is guaranteed.

“They all went over the first hurdle, which is getting drafted,” Vermes said. “The second hurdle now is to try to make the team.”

But Singh welcomes the challenge.

“Going to a professional team, you know that it’s going to be a lot of work, but I’ve been in this position before where you have to work for your right to get on the field,” said Singh, who arrives Thursday in Kansas City. “I’m looking forward to the opportunity.”

Miller, who was Sporting KC’s second pick in the third round and No. 54 overall, won’t have nearly as far to travel as Singh, who hails from Bakersfield, Calif.

“It would be such a dream come true (to play for Sporting KC),” said Miller, a 2007 St. Thomas Aquinas graduate who also played for the Sporting KC Under-19 team. “I know that’s a big cliché, but honestly it is. I grew up watching Peter and those old Kansas City Wizards teams. I always thought about how cool it would be to come play for the hometown team.”

That familiarity certainly played a role in Sporting KC’s decision to bring him aboard.

“I’ve known Kyle a long time,” Vermes said. “He’s very athletic and good with the ball at his feet, but he’s also got a good engine.”

Miller projects as an outside back, but he also has the versatility to play central defender or defensive midfielder in a pinch.

Former Suburban Mid-Six boys’ soccer player of the year Matt Kuhn from Raytown South also had his name called during the supplemental selections.

Kuhn, a midfielder from Drake, was D.C. United’s fourth-round choice, the 64th overall pick, while San Jose used the pick acquired for the rights to Thomas to select Tyler Krumpe, a defender from Loyola.

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