The transfer window for Major League Soccer comes to a close today. And, while most of the Eastern Conference has been busy splashing cash and adding big-name talent, Sporting Kansas City have officially added just two players
And, unless Peter Vermes was in Philadelphia this week at the All-Star Game working out a deal to poach Freddy Adu, Brek Shea or whatever other "slightly out of favor" player you fancy, it seems KC is going to finish the last four months of the season with its current roster. (The window closing today is for international transfers. MLS teams are able to make trades until Sept. 15. Also, if a foreign player is a free agent or out of contract, they can sign with an MLS team until Sept. 15.)
Now, obviously, Kansas City has been all right so far this year. It sent three players to the MLS All-Star Game (Graham Zusi, Aurelien Collin and Jimmy Nielsen) and had two more inactive All-Stars (Kei Kamara and Roger Espinoza). Currently, KC is second in the Eastern Conference (fourth if the MLS were a single-table league). And the U.S. Open Cup Final against Seattle looms in two weeks.
So, yeah, Kansas City is having a pretty good run of things right about now.
But is that going to be enough? Does Kansas City have enough talent on the roster to make a run to the MLS Cup? Especially when its rivals in the East have been spending money like a 22-year-old with an high-ceiling credit card?
The New York Red Bulls have been the aggressor this summer, acquiring striker Sebastien Le Toux (in addition to forwards Thierry Henry AND Kenny Cooper? C'mon!) and goalkeeper Bill Gaudette before signing its third "designated player" Everton's Tim Cahill. (Rumors of a bid for Brazilian Kaka also swirled this week.)
With Henry, Cooper, Rafa Marquez, Joel Lindpere and emerging rookie Connor Lade, it would appear that the Red Bulls are, um,
. (Actually getting that talent to gel together on the field might be another story.)
New York isn't the only team making waves. The two Canadian teams have been busy as well. Montreal added Italians Alessandro Nesta and Marco Di Vaio; Toronto FC picked up designated player Eric Hassli from Vancouver.
Three more designated players during the transfer window too: Houston brought in Honduran midfielder Oscar Boniek Garcia, Chicago acquired Dutch forward Sherjill MacDonald and New England bought Honduran forward Jerry Bengston.*
*As of this writing, Kansas City are one of just two teams in the Eastern Conference team without a designated player. (Columbus is the other.)
Philadelphia didn't go big, but it did add former MLS Best XI defender Bakary Soumare.
The only official additions this summer for Sporting: Serbian defender Neven Markovic and local goalkeeper Scott Angevine. The team is allegedly very close to signing 20-year-old former Barcelona "B" defender Oriol Rosell (I've heard the framework for the deal is in place -- since Rosell is out of contract, KC have until Sept. 15 to reach a deal with him).
The biggest question mark through most of the first half of the season has been shoring up the defense. Many feared there wasn't enough depth -- especially after second-round SuperDraft pick Cyprian Hedrick went on season-ending injured reserve.
It seemed (still seems) like a minor knock. After all, how many teams have an MLS-caliber right back (Michael Harrington) sitting on the bench?
Adding Markovic (25) and Rosell (20) -- not to mention locally-grown Supplemental pick Kyle Miller (23), who signed this Spring -- easily makes KC one of the deepest (and youngest) corps in MLS.* (The injury Collin suffered in the All Star Game which will sideline him for 1-2 weeks will test this depth.)
*Hard to believe, but KC's oldest defender is actually Lawrence Olum. He's 28.
The problem of late though, has been finding consistency in front of the net. Including the Montpellier friendly on Tuesday night, Sporting fans haven't seen a home goal in the last four matches. Injuries have played a part (Bobby Convey missed almost two months), but it's been made worse by the struggles of Teal Bunbury and C.J. Sapong have had in front of goal. Each young striker has just one goal over the last five games. (Thankfully, Jacob Peterson and the penalty spot have helped KC get on the scoreboard.)
A creative midfielder or a clinical finisher would've been a nice addition. Instead, Peter Vermes will trust that Kamara (one of four players to score more than 7 goals in each of the last four seasons) and/or Bunbury/Sapong will pick up the scoring slack; a healthy Bobby Convey (coincidence: KC's scoring issues manifested when he was out injured?) will share the creative burden with Zusi; and the deep corps of defenders will keep the ball out of the back of the net.
Will that work?
Kansas City has 13 matches remaining -- all against Eastern Conference foes; three against the Red Bulls alone.
Which means we'll find out sooner rather than later if staying the course this summer was the right move or not.