2023 Season Previews: Sporting Kansas City
Welcome to the seventh Season Preview of the 2023 MLS season! After a dreadfully disappointing 2022, Sporting KC must lick their wounds, reset, and prepare to go again. Some of the necessary work has already been done, but there is still more to do before the season kicks off in late February. Will we see another year without playoffs or will we see a return to the Western Conference top 3?
Record: 11-7-16 (38 points/12th in West)
Team Leader Goals: William Agada 8, Johnny Russell 8, Daniel Salloi 7
Team Leader Assists: Daniel Salloi 5, Roger Espinoza 4, Remi Walter 3
Manager: Peter Vermes (15th season)
Additions: CDM Nemanja Radoja (free from Levante UD/29 years old), LB Tim Leibold (free from Hamburger SV/29 years old), ST Stephen Afrifa (1st round draft pick FIU/21 years old), CB Christopher Rindov (2nd round draft pick Maryland/21 years old), CM Danny Flores (Free Agent MLS Waiver signing Virginia Tech/20 years old)
Subtractions: CB Nicolas Isimat-Mirin (free to Vitesse/31 years old), CDM Uri Rosell (free agent/30 years old), CB Kaveh Rad (free to Hartford/21 years old)
Designated Players: CAM Gadi Kinda, ST Alan Pulido, RW Johnny Russell
Projected Starting XI
Sporting KC is an interesting proposition heading into 2023. In 2020 and in 2021, Kansas City finished in home playoff positions, 1st and 3rd respectively. In 2022 however, SKC saw a massive decline in quality and results, leading to a disastrous 11th-place finish and a heartbreaking Open Cup semifinal loss to underdogs Sacramento Republic FC.
With not too many key additions, you would instantly think this team will continue its struggles into the new year but I'm not counting them out just yet. Injuries played their part in 2022's story and, with better injury luck, 2023 will see the return of some key contributors in Gadi Kinda and Alan Pulido. Then, with some smart additions in central midfield, SKC will feel much more comfortable with their options heading into the new season.
One area of concern is the defense as a whole. On the left, Kansas City signed 2 LBs last year and brought in another one this offseason. On the right, they are sticking with club legend Graham Zusi for another year behind exciting 19-year-old Kayden Pierre. In the center, Isimat-Mirin leaves just Fountas, Voloder, Ford, and draft pick Rindov. If I'm an SKC fan, I want another CB when looking at that depth chart. Finally, the GK position has some open questions. Melia was poor last season before getting injured and Pulskamp wasn't much better. I'm not sure who starts in 2023. Vermes has to set up his team to help out the back 4 if SKC is to be successful in 2023.
Thanks for viewing our seventh 2023 season preview. There will be a new one out about every single day leading up to MLS kickoff. If you are a passionate fan looking to write about your club, we are actively seeking contributors for MLS clubs this season. If interested, message us on either Twitter or Instagram @MLSNowPodcast. We want to provide an outlet for fans to discuss their club on the site and also guest star on the podcast throughout the season.