Guide to Sporting KC’s 'Silly Season'A comprehensive guide to Sporting KC’s offseason transactions and what they mean for the team
by Brandon Arendt | Monday, December 10, 2012
It’s that time of the year again.
Major League Soccer has lifted the roster lock and the player movements have begun. MLS can get a bit confusing in the offseason, so allow me to keep you in the loop on what has happened in Sporting Kansas City’s front office thus far.
Julio Cesar: The decision to waive the veteran defensive midfielder couldn’t possibly have been a simple one. The former Real Madrid man appeared in 58 MLS matches spread through two seasons in which tallied 3 goals and 3 assists and was featured in the US Open Cup final. The decision was so difficult for SKC coach and Technical Director Peter Vermes that Sporting even offered Julio Cesar a coaching position, which he declined. Cesar’s release was mostly financially driven as he was the highest paid player on the roster, making a reported base salary of $252,000 per year. Oriol Rosell’s emergence as a talented youngster in the same position certainly contributed to the decision to release Cesar as well.
Neven Markovic: The 24-year-old Serbian left back made only two appearances in MLS competition after being acquired mid-season. When asked about left back Neven Markovic’s release, Vermes was clear that the decision was made based on “redundancy at that position.” In addition, Neven’s release opens up an international slot – a position that many pundits, myself included, expect Sporting to fill in preparation for CONCACAF Champion’s League.
Cyprian Hedrick: The 23-year-old center back was selected in the 2nd round of the 2012 MLS Super Draft. However, Hedrick suffered a broken left fibula (calf bone) after only appearing in 3 reserve league matches. Releasing Cyprian Hedrick should have a very minimal impact on Sporting KC for the 2013 campaign.
Konrad Warzycha: The 3rd round 2011 MLS draftee had a very limited stint in the first team. He only appeared once in MLS competition, featuring in a 2-0 victory over MLS bottom-feeders Toronto FC. When asked about Warzycha’s release, Vermes cited issues with team chemistry, stating that “In his heart of hearts, he's still a midfielder and he just doesn't fit into our plans at that position.” I doubt that releasing Konrad Warzycha will impact the club greatly.
Roger Espinoza: One man who has been in high demand since the 2012 Olympics is Espinoza, who led the Honduran Olympic squad to an unlikely campaign in which the gritty underdogs knocked off Spain to finish 2nd in their group. During his campaign, Espinoza impressed many, none more so than Wigan manager Roberto Martinez, who signed defender and midfielder just recently to Wigan. Espinoza appeared in 120 MLS matches through five seasons with Sporting Kansas City, and became a fan favorite for his tenacious box to box play. The loss of left-sided midfielder is almost certainly the most “painful” loss this offseason for fans and the club as well.
Michael Harrington: After six seasons with Sporting Kansas City, right back Michael Harrington has been sold to the Portland Timbers organization for allocation money. Club policy states that the financial details will not be released. However, Harrington’s estimated market value at the time of his sale was roughly $125,000. Expect the sale of this Sporting KC stalwart to make room on the salary cap to bring in more depth throughout the squad.
Josh Gardner: Sporting Kansas City acquired left-sided midfielder Joshua Gardner from the Montreal Impact for a second round pick in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft. The 30-year-old midfielder will add much needed depth on the left side of the field where the departure of Espinoza has left a gaping hole. Gardner’s pedigree includes a three-year stint with the Los Angeles Galaxy in which he won the 2005 US Open Cup and an MLS Cup. Josh Gardner should bring Sporting one step closer to the depth needed to succeed in what is already going to be a very congested schedule.