I’ll be honest, I did not see that coming.
Striker C.J. Sapong, Commissioner Don Garber pose after Sapong pick. ( Tony Quinn)
Neither did any of the so-called experts, insiders, or bloggers. Even CJ Sapong, Sporting Kansas City’s first round pick in the MLS SuperDraft, was surprised when his name was called as the 10th overall pick:
“I was surprised. Coming into the combine I was just trying to get drafted…”
CJ Sapong is a big, strong forward who played at James Madison last year.He scored 37 goals and tallied 21 assists in his four years in Virginia, excelling as a post-up, target forward. Most projections had Sapong going somewhere around the 30th slot, so there was a fair amount of head scratching when SKC tapped him 10th.
The pick raised eyebrows not only because almost everyone had multiple other forwards ranked ahead of Sapong, but also because SKC seems crowded at the forward position with Teal Bunbury, Kei Kamara, and Omar Bravo expected to start. (Interestingly, Sapong’s name was listed on SKC’s roster on their website almost immediately after being drafted, but Omar Bravo’s name has yet to be added. Is Bravo having second thoughts after coming to KC for the “big announcement” at P&L a few months ago?)
It seems that SKC’s greatest need is in the center of the defense with the departure of stalwart Jimmy Conrad, as well as Jonathan Leathers, and Aaron Holbein. But Vermes is bringing in a couple Trinidadian defenders for trials in the pre-season, so maybe he feels confident enough that the defensive gap will be filled.
Sapong isn’t worried about the logjam up top, though:
“It’s a perfect situation for me, it’s going to be competitive and that’s the type of player I am- very competitive. I work very hard and it’s going to be good to be thrust into a competitive situation off the bat…”
And about those haters who perhaps didn’t see what Vermes and company saw in Sapong? Well, CJ keeps it all in perspective:
“All these so-called experts started coming out with their drafts or whatever. I never dwelled on it. Just like in college, I never dwelled on not being named to this All American or that All American team. At the end of the day it’s just everyone else’s opinion, everybody’s entitled to their opinion. I’m not going to say I was never upset, or didn’t work harder when I didn’t make one of those teams – I definitely did. But ultimately that’s what got me here today, that hunger and that passion. So basically all the mock drafts, I mean, it was fun seeing my name up there and people thinking I’ll go here or go there, it was fun. But I took it for what it was worth, just kind of kept it moving and focused on the things I could control.”
Good answer, CJ. I think you and your new boss are going to get along just fine.
SKC’s other selections in Thursday’s SuperDraft were JT Murray, a defender out of Louisville, and Konrad Wrzycha, a midfielder out of Ohio State.
Michael Harrington Agrees to Terms
SKC is reporting that hold-out Michael Harrington has agreed to terms of a deal after being without a contract for some time. As I touched on in an earlier article, it seemed for a while that negotiations between Harrington and the SKC front office had kind of ground to a halt. So it is great news that an agreement is in place with plenty of time before any preseason training begins, especially because Harrington made a big step up last season.
Think that the three other defenders Vermes is bringing to Arizona for trials had anything to do with Harrington changing his tune? I do.