With the 2016 MLS regular season less than a week away, and the rest of the league already previewed on the blog, attention to turns to Sporting Kansas City and its pursuit of more hardware in the year to come.
Our position breakdown begins with the keepers:
2015 FINISH (regular season stats): 23 starts, 8 shutouts, 82 saves, 28 goals against
2016 ROLE: Starter
SKINNY: After spending five seasons as a backup who made six total appearances, Tim Melia finally had a chance to shine. He made the most of his opportunity, tallying 23 starts and an 11-8-4 record. Few stories were better than Melia’s a season ago. Now, he can solidify himself as a premier shot-stopper in the league and finally bring about a full season of stability at the position for Sporting KC.
2015 FINISH (with Chicago Fire): 1 start, 0 shutouts, 6 saves, 2 goals against
2016 ROLE: Backup
SKINNY: Alec Kann comes to Kansas City after spending most of 2015 with Chicago’s USL affiliate, Saint Louis FC. There, he recorded 74 saves in 19 matches before being called up by the Fire. He made six saves against the New York Red Bulls in his debut. Kann is an athletic, lengthy keeper at 6-foot-4 who showed well during the preseason.
2015 FINISH: 3 starts, 0 shutouts, 6 saves, 5 goals against
2016 ROLE: Loaned to Swope Park Rangers
SKINNY: More than five years have passed since Jon Kempin signed the club’s first homegrown contract in August 2010. At 22, he remains a young, promising prospect, but one who should be ready to take the next step. Injuries and instability since Jimmy Nielsen’s departure have kept Kempin from earning valuable experience at the USL level. Kann’s arrival should give him a full season with the Swope Park Rangers, where Sporting KC coach Peter Vermes can monitor his progress closely.