Donnelly: Sporting Kansas City Prepares for Yet Another Draft

It’s that time of year…again.

Sporting Kansas City announced recently that its first day of training will be January 25th, here in KC, before heading to the desert for a couple of stints at a training facility in the Phoenix area.  While in Phoenix, SKC will play several exhibitions against other MLS teams, as they have in the past, while getting ready for their March 19th opener in LA versus Chivas USA.

With luck the roster will be finalized by the time training begins on the 25th.  Still unsigned is outside defender Michael Harrington, who had a breakout season last year.  The word is that the team has put the ball in Harrington’s and his agent’s court, with SKC brass simply waiting for a decision.  It sounds to me like things may be getting (or have already gotten) somewhat contentious. 

Harrington was a definite bright spot in a somewhat troubled defensive line last season, so the sooner he gets on board, the better.

Other new players will likely fall into place in the next few weeks. Including defender/midfielder Luke Sassano and maybe a player scouted during Peter Vermes’ Caribbean excursion a month or two back. 

And the MLS SuperDraft is coming up on January 13th in Baltimore. 

Wait. Didn’t we just have a draft?  Um, yes, a couple of them.  (And there’s another one on January 18th.  Crazy MLS…).

The SuperDraft allows teams to select graduated seniors or other players who have signed with the league, including Generation Adidas players.  The Generation Adidas program was set up by MLS to get the most talented, young (non-graduated) college players into the league.  This year, the MLS has signed around ten players to GA contracts.  So with SKC sitting at #10 for the first round of the SuperDraft, there should be the opportunity to select a GA player.

GA players generally receive higher salaries and signing bonuses than their graduated counterparts, and their salary is exempt from the team’s overall salary cap for two years.  So there’s a big incentive to draft out of the GA pool, which in years past has included Teal Bunberry, Chance Myers, and Roger Espinoza.  Teal looks to be emerging as a star, while Chance may be fighting for a roster spot somewhere if he can’t stay healthy and continues to underachieve.  Roger had a solid season last year and looks to be an important part of SKC going forward. 

Most mock drafts have SKC filling a position of need and selecting a defender – either AJ Soares out of the University of California or Jalil Anibaba from the University of North Carolina. But it’s hard to say without knowing what other signings are in the works.  Regardless of who SKC selects in the draft, with the departure of Jimmy Conrad, the defensive line will be a much different unit in 2011 than it was in 2010.
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