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Sporting Kansas City End of Year Grades



We started at the bottom and now we’re here. It literally couldn’t get worse to start the year.  I was a part of the group that was calling for change at all levels of the team.  That said, the boys pulled it together, eked their way into the playoffs and made a bit of a run, performing among the best in the league for the better part of the last two thirds of the season.  Here I will be reviewing individual player performances as well as the coaches and my own!   

Player Grades


FORWARDS

Alan Pulido

Age- 32

FOTMOB Market Value- $3.3M

Grade-B

Goals-14

Assists-1

Starts-26

Minutes-2207

 

Although he had an abbreviated season, statistically he was still one of the best strikers in MLS.  He only had one assist, but his link up play and space that he creates for other attackers was invaluable to the team.  Unfortunately, he had a habit of disappearing in important games, especially after signing his new contract.

William Agada

Age- 24

FOTMOB Market Value- $3M

Grade- C-

Goals-3

Assists-0

Starts-7

Minutes-688

 

Early in the year he tried to put the whole team on his back with a broken leg.  It didn’t really work out, but he looked like the Agada we loved when he returned from injury.  Unfortunately, his playing time was extremely limited.  Agada’s inclusion in line-ups towards the end of the year led to some interesting looks for the team.  Peter Vermes is often criticized for playing his patented 4-3-3 scheme and only a 4-3-3, but when Agada would come on late in the season, KC would often play a 4-2-3-1 with Pulido dropping back to play a 10 role. In the future, I’d like to see more combinations with Pulido and Agada, and maybe if Johnny Russell or Daniel Salloi isn’t healthy, we can see a 4-4-2 instead of putting Khiry Shelton into the starting line-up.

Stephen Afrifa

Age- 22

FOTMOB Market Value- $150K

Grade- D

Goals-0

Assists-0

Starts-1

Minutes- 51

 

What can you say about a guy who got 51 minutes of playing time?  Not a whole lot it seems.  He has the athletic ability to make a difference on the team but he really needs to break out and impress in his playing time with the second team. 

WINGERS

Daniel Salloi

Age- 27

FOTMOB Market Value- 7.1M

Grade- B+

Goals- 7

Assists- 8

Starts- 33

Minutes- 2867

 

Daniel Salloi is a hell of a role player, but you really don’t want him to be the best player on your team.  When he is the third option, he will make things happen.  That said, if he is your only option, it’s pretty likely that you’ll put up a goose egg. 

Johnny Russell

Age- 33

FOTMOB Market Value- $1.8M

Grade- C+

Goals- 8

Assists- 3

Starts- 21

Minutes-1687

 

In some ways this year was a bit of a renaissance for Johnny MF Russell. Although he dealt with injuries, we were definitely better with him than without him, and his passion for the game is infectious, making him an ideal Captain for the team.  At times he looked as if he lost a step due to age, maybe his usual move wasn’t working like it used to, but then he would pull something out of his hat that would make you say “Johnny MF Russell” and believe that maybe he could continue to be effective.

Khiry Shelton

Age- 30

FOTMOB Market Value-$730K

Grade- D

Goals- 1

Assists- 0

Starts- 7

Minutes- 842

 

People try their damndest to not bash on Khiry.  I’m not one of those people.  Khiry offers nowhere near his salary’s value with production on the field.  There were times when he would come into the game and not throw the game away, but there are also a few losses that can be directly tied to him. Admittedly, towards the end of the year he looked a lot better than early on, but it’s still nowhere near good enough, he’s had years of experience within the system and at a minimum should be solid. We need to find a way to get this guy off the payroll. One fun thing about Khiry is that when he comes in at the wing he almost always drops back into the midfield for defense, simultaneously showing me that Peter has no faith in his offensive abilities as well as making all of his defensive mistakes that much worse.   

Marinos Tzionis

Age- 22

FOTMOB Market Value-$1.4M

Grade- D-

Goals- 0

Assists- 1

Starts-6

Minutes-725

 

Marinos should be a superstar in Kansas City.  He still has his flashes of brilliance, but he hasn’t had any of the productivity you need to come along with his shows of skill.  I often wonder what his production numbers would be if he didn’t have so many of his minutes come in junk time, but he still needs to do better.  He makes a lot of money.  He has all of the talent necessary, and for some reason or another he hasn’t made it work.  I also view his failure as failure on the coaching staff.  They need to find a way to motivate and inspire young talent like Marinos to get to the next level, not just put players like him at the bottom of the depth chart behind even worse and less productive players like Khiry Shelton.  


MIDFIELDERS

Erik Thommy

Age- 29

FOTMOB Market Value-$2.15M

Grade-B+

Goals- 5

Assists- 5

Starts- 32

Minutes-2580

 

Erik Thommy is a blessing to Kansas City.  He’s a solid midfielder both offensively and defensively and I love him hahaha. This year, we didn’t get as many of the “Archer’s” long goals that I was expecting, but he had 10 goal contributions and always plays with passion.  I’m excited to see him continue with the team.

Gadi Kinda

Age- 29

FOTMOB Market Value-$4.2M

Grade- C+

Goals- 3

Assists- 4

Starts-8

Minutes-837

 

While Gadi Kinda was injured, you could find me on Reddit questioning whether his return was really something to look forward to.  I remembered him as a flashy ball hog who often turned the ball over.  Boy howdy was I wrong.  He was incredible in his limited minutes.  The reason his grade wasn’t higher was his limited playing time, and the fact that he still struggled with injury even after his return.  That said, with his age and injury history, although I’m not stoked about it, I think that we’ll be ok with him leaving as is being reported.

Remi Walter

Age- 28

FOTMOB Market Value-$2.47M

Grade- A

Goals- 2

Assists- 2

Starts-29

Minutes- 2737

 

Remi Walter is an invaluable workhorse for the team.  He’s flexible and can contribute in both the 6 and 8 roles.  On top of that, he’s like the only guy in Kansas City that you would never call fragile.  Early in the season I was interviewed by the “Keeping Tabs” Houston Dynamo Podcast and asked who our best player up to that point had been, and I remember I went with Remi despite the rest of our teams struggles.  He won’t have the flashiest numbers, but he will make your team better.

Felipe Gutierrez

Age- 33

FOTMOB Market Value-$510K

Grade-C

Goals- 0

Assists- 0

Starts-4

Minutes-293

 

When we signed him, although I had fond memories of his first stint with the team, I was not happy.  I’m a big advocate for Felipe Hernandez and Gutierrez’s signing was the quiet way of saying that the team had moved on from Hernandez at least for the season.  That said, although Gutierrez was slow, he had excellent positioning, and played ok to good in all of his appearances.  The team has since moved on from him in the offseason and I’m not too worried about it.  

Nemanja Radoja

Age- 30

FOTMOB Market Value-$1.6M

Grade-B+

Goals- 0

Assists- 2

Starts-21

Minutes-1713

 

Nemanja Radoja is a great MLS player.  He doesn’t have the flashiest stats, but if you look at his playing time and the parts of the season where SKC was finding success they line up pretty well. I’d like to see him stay healthy for a full campaign, and when he was signed there was talk of him filling in at CB, if we don’t address our weaknesses in the back I would like to see him fill that role as well.

Felipe Hernandez

Age- 25

FOTMOB Market Value-$1.5M

Grade- F+

Goals- 1

Assists- 0

Starts- 2

Minutes-321

 

Somehow Felipe Hernandez went from promising young talent who co-led the team in assists to Peter’s doghouse.  In a year where he was supposed to be entering his prime, Felipe pretty much found his way onto the bench.  In his few performances with the first team, he was often a bright spot, and he still gave 100% every match.  The way this year went for him is incredibly disappointing.  

Danny Flores

Age- 21

FOTMOB Market Value-NA

Grade-Inc

Goals- 0

Assists- 0

Starts-0

Minutes-7

 

Not enough time to judge.

Roger Espinoza

Age- 37

FOTMOB Market Value- $170K

Grade-D+

Goals- 0

Assists- 2

Starts- 7

Minutes-728

 

Roger was rarely the worst player on the field, but he was never the best.  Throughout the early stages of the season a man who was re-signed to have a limited role and help close out games was all but killing his protégé’s (Hernandez) career.  I don’t know if Peter was trying to protect Felipe from bad habits from playing in bad games, or what but it made me resent the old man at times, and that’s a damn shame, because he’s given so much to this team and community.  Towards the end of the year, he was filling the role he was brought onto the season for, only there still wasn’t playing time for Felipe as all of his minutes had gone to the other old man, Felipe Gutierez.  Thank you to Roger and all you have done for the team, I hope you enjoy retirement, and come back to work in the office in some capacity.

Cam Duke

Age- 22

FOTMOB Market Value- $1.1M

Grade-F-

Goals- 0

Assists- 0

Starts-1

Minutes-135

 

Duke started the season in the long-term doghouse and cemented his role outside of the team’s long-term plans.


DEFENDERS

Andreu Fontas

Age- 34

FOTMOB Market Value- $496K

Grade- B+

G+A-0

Tackles/90- 2.07 (91 Percentile

Starts- 27

Minutes- 2392

 

Fontas doesn’t bring a lot to the stat table but he was pretty good this year for long portions of the season—especially when he was alongside Danny Rosero. Their pairing, along with Nemanja Radoja’s addition and Alan Pulido’s return was the “good part” of the SKC year.  Fontas was a solid passer out of the back and made many great goal saving plays.   

Danny Rosero

Age- 30

FOTMOB Market Value- $1M

Grade- B+

G+A- 2

Aerials Won/90- 2.55

Starts- 26

Minutes-1687

 

When I hear many of the other local podcasters talk about Danny Rosero, you can tell a lot of them don’t want to give him his flowers.  He made some boneheaded mistakes, but overall, I think his addition to the team is overwhelmingly positive.  He single-handedly made SKC dangerous on set pieces, added a level of athleticism to the back line, and his fit and ability to work with Fontas improved every game.  I’m excited to see him continue to grow into Vermes defensive system.   

Jake Davis

Age- 21

FOTMOB Market Value- $1.6M

Grade- A+

G+A- 1

Tackles/90- 2.96 (92 percentile)

Starts- 24

Minutes- 2037

 

My man went from fringe to legend in a year.  He plays with passion, has the athletic capability and the fight to have a long successful career.  I hope he can continue his rapid rise! The job fell to him almost by accident and he forced his way into a long-term starting position with the team.

Logan Ndenbe

Age- 23

FOTMOB Market Value-$2.5M

Grade- C+

G+A- 1

Interceptions- 1.41

Starts- 18

Minutes-1536

 

God I hope his injury isn’t too bad!  Playoff Ndenbe was incredible.  Apparently to start the season Ndenbe and Peter had some disagreements on his fitness.  I really hope that he secures his starting position on his return from injury.

Robert Voloder

Age- 22

FOTMOB Market Value- $1.8M

Grade- D

G+A- 0

Interception/90- 1.84

Starts- 11

Minutes-1030

 

So far, he hasn’t shown much. When he started games, our defense was noticeably worse off.  Really hope he can find his way in Peter’s system, because if not, he’s going to be an expensive guy to sit on the bench.   

Tim Leibold

Age- 30

FOTMOB Market Value- $1.3M

Grade- C

G+A- 2

Interceptions/90- 1.75

Starts-9

Minutes-872

 

There were portions of the season where he looked like our best option at his position.  That said, I personally think that Logan has a much higher ceiling and can impact the game more.  He’s in line to start a lot of games next year with Logan out.  Lets hope he can find his footing with extended playing time.   

Graham Zusi

Age- 37

FOTMOB Market Value-$160K

Grade- D

G+A- 1

Clearances/90- 2.6

Starts-9

Minutes- 865

 

He was ok when he played, but he didn’t really make the team better in his playing time and he kept players that needed to develop on the bench.

Robert Castellanos

Age- 25

FOTMOB Market Value-$323K

Grade- F

G+A- 1

 

Starts-7

Minutes-701

 

His one goal was great.  Unfortunately, it was just one, and when he came onto the field you knew we were about to give up goals.  They weren’t always directly his fault, but we lost organization in the back line when he came on. He had a terrible red card in limited minutes, and looked like he needed a trip back to the USL in most of his playing time.  

Ben Sweat

Age- 32

FOTMOB Market Value-$450

Grade- F

G+A- 1

Tackles/90- .98

Starts- 4

Minutes- 314

 

Ben Sweat is gone, thank god.  Somehow, when he was with the team, Peter Vermes had him at the top of the pecking order.  How was this terrible, already developed old man getting starts over our younger players?  Ben Sweat is the ultimate example of Peter Vermes blocking youth growth through old, non-performing vets that hurt the team.

Kayden Pierre

Age- 20

FOTMOB Market Value-$1.7M

Grade- Inc

G+A- 0

 

Starts- 0

Minutes-5

 

I hope he comes back from injury and takes the league by storm. 

Chris Rindov

Age- 22

FOTMOB Market Value- $60K

Grade- Inc

G+A- 0

 

Starts-0

Minutes-5

 

Not enough playing time.

 

GOALKEEPERS

Tim Melia

Age- 37

FOTMOB Market Value- $430K

Grade    A-

PSxG (+/-) 3.5

Save Percentage-69.1

Starts- 16

Minutes-1418

 Tim Melia was clearly the best goalkeeper when he was healthy.  In a year that John Pulskamp was supposed to take his job, Melia only solidified his position as the best goalkeeper on the team.  His stellar in game performances was only matched by his throwback performance facing penalty kicks to defeat San Jose 4-2 and secure Sporting’s spot in the playoffs.  The reason his grade is an A- is due to missed time with the team.

Kendall McIntosh

Age- 29

FOTMOB Market Value- $210K

Grade C-

PSxG (+/-) -3.3

Save Percentage- 69.0

Starts-13

Minutes-1192

 Mcintosh finished off the season the same as he started it.  He is a very solid second to third string option at goalie, but you don’t want him as your everyday starter.  I appreciate him for what he brought to the team but am more than ok to see him go.

John Pulskamp

Age- 22

FOTMOB Market Value- $520K

Grade D+

PSxG (+/-) 0.0

Save Percentage- 65

Starts- 5

Minutes- 450

 Pulskamp is still fairly young, he still gets calls from the national team and he undeniably has some talent.  That said, he had an opportunity to make the starting position at SKC his own and to send Tim Melia into retirement, and he was unable to secure his position as top dog of our goalkeeper stable.


Peter Vermes (B)

Peter Vermes gets a B for his season.  He brought the team back to life from a grave that he played a large part in digging.  He played multiple formations, and had enough old guys on his team to be confident with substitutions at timely moments and coaches an attractive possession-based system.  That said, he didn’t rotate in youth when we needed to, he gave up on the development of key players and as our team continues to age, I don’t think he has us in the best place for the future. I think Peter's biggest weakness is his ability to develop youth. Early in this offseason, he has made 2 signings that have my hopes up, with both of them being young and talented players.


ME (B-)

When I was asked to join the Blog-team for MLS Now I was in the hospital with my wife waiting for my first-born daughter to come out and meet us.  Since then, I’ve moved from Southern California to the Washington DC area, started a new job and moved again after buying my first house.  I don’t feel like I’ve reached my peak yet.  That said, I got the Danny Rosero story out before he was signed, was largely right about my midseason playoff hopes predictions and I’ve had a lot of fun contributing to the conversation in the group chat.  It always blows me away with the kind of information a lot of our team is privy too.  On top of the writing additions, I was on the main podcast once and guested on the Keeping Tabs podcast.  Next year, since I’m on the East Coast now, I hope to make it to a lot more stadiums and see the fan culture for different clubs, and maybe document my travels as a neutral or travelling fan.

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