Donnelly: Sporting Makes Two Good Moves

Just this morning it was announced that Sporting Kansas City re-signed MLS Defender of the year and KC native, Matt Besler

Besler became a free agent at season’s end and admitted on 810 WHB this morning that he had several different opportunities to go overseas, including an offer in the EPL.  Besler said that there was more money for him in Europe than that offered by Robb Heineman, but the decision came down to the situation here in KC – the stadium, the other players on the team, management, coaching staff, and of course the opportunity to win immediately.

Most of the teams interested in Besler in Europe were bottom feeder types, though they were probably as good or better of a squad than Sporting will field in 2013.

That being said, it’s great to have The Rock back in the middle for the upcoming season.  A few seasons ago I wrote about how KC’s biggest need was for Besler to step up, become a “harder” player, and solidify the center defense.

Well, he did all that and more.  KC conceded the fewest goals in the MLS, and all four of their backline – and keeper White Puma – are all back next year.  My only concern is how long an aging Jimmy Nielsen can keep up his form.  If lifelong backup Eric Kronberg isn’t ready for prime time, I’d like to see Sporting go after a legit keeper who can step in for Nielsen without missing a beat.

The second good move?

Vermes snatched USMNT veteran midfielder Benny Feilhaber from the New England Revolution in exchange for cash, their 2014 first-round SuperDraft pick, and their 2015 second-round SuperDraft pick.  Seems like a lot to give up, you say?

Maybe.  But I like the move.

Feilhaber fell out of favor in Boston, but he’s only 27 and he’s a true box to box guy who can hold the ball, is smart, and can deliver quality passes.  Plus, he’s an athletic guy, so fitting into Vermes’ high press system shouldn’t be much of a problem.

Benny spent most of his career in Germany and England before coming to MLS a season and a half ago, and since then KC has had their eye on him.  I think he’ll be a perfect complement to Graham Zusi and Oriell Rosell in the midfield.  Each of those three are savvy, deft players who can hold the ball and play a possession style that at times was lacking last season with the styles of Roger Espinoza and Paulo Nagamura.   

Word on the Twitter is that more news is coming later today – perhaps the signing of a striker? – so tune in to @RobbHeineman to stay up to date.   

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5 Responses to Donnelly: Sporting Makes Two Good Moves

  1. Matt says:

    Well, no striker, but Sporting just did announce the signing of central defender Ike Opara from San Jose in exchange for KC’s second-round SuperDraft pick in 2013. Opara was selected 3rd overall a few years ago and Vermes and Co. seem to be super bullish on him.

    “Ike is a player we had very high on our draft board three years ago. If we had the top two picks, we would have selected both him and Teal (Bunbury),” Sporting KC Manager Peter Vermes said. “He possesses all of the qualities and characteristics of becoming a top-level central defender in MLS. We are excited about all of his potential and look forward to working with him in the preseason.”

    So what does this mean for Best XI performer and wild Frenchie Aurelien Collin?

  2. Rick Nichols says:

    Still need a striker, then, as Teal Bunbury has yet to prove that he can be a consistent goal scorer, and Kamara and Sapong are hardly world-class finishers. For Sporting, the road to MLS Cup 2013 will likely go through Houston at some point, so securing sufficient firepower to beat the Dynamo needs to be a high priority!!!

  3. % says:

    A lot of the local SKC bloggers and Twitterers are treating this like Gretzky getting traded from the Oilers to the Kings. I’m not yet convinced that the Feilhaber trade is a stroke of brilliance from SKC. I could be wrong and certainly have been before, but I haven’t seen a ton of evidence that Feilhaber is a man on the rise. He does, at this point in time, fit the always-used MLS narrative of “a change of scenery can reignite his career!”

    But there isn’t a good answer as to why a guy who didn’t do all that much in New England can get it done here.

    There’s an unspoken, even if unlikely, prospect that Feilhaber could be shoring up a Zusi departure within the next year. I hope I’m wrong, but that was one of my first thoughts when I heard on Thanksgiving that Feilhaber could be on his way.

    After all of this, though, I will concede that sending some draft picks to New England isn’t a big giveaway for this team and that if nothing else, he will be an upgrade for the mostly ineffective Julio Cesar. And also he can hopefully help shake SKC’s midfield out of its habit of sitting there and crossing the ball into the box all game. Seriously, watch a SKC game, particularly when they fall behind, and tell me what percentage of time they actually commit to the run of play and what percentage of the time they’re just lobbing crosses. It’s 10-90 at best.

    Still unresolved is a true striker. I say SKC just sign Conor Casey. I know he’s sort of a guy who is easy to make fun of and has had a terrible couple of years (mostly due to injury), but SKC could use a guy whose only role is to sit there in the box and put goals in the net. Sapong, Bunbury and Kamara have not been hacking it in that capacity.

  4. balbonis moleskine says:

    Is Eddie Johnson available? He certainly was explosive when he played here, I see he is back in the MLS after fizzling out in Europe…

  5. the dude says:

    We need a striker not a bloody piker!!

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