Sporting Kansas City Offseason Acquisitions
As Sporting KC has kicked off their preseason training program, I thought it would be a good idea to take a look at the team's additions to the roster for 2012.
A few draft picks here, a couple trades there, mix in a couple free agents with the pieces already in place, and you begin to get a picture of what Sporting KC will look like on Opening Day.
Trade: Paulo Nagamura (From Chivas USA)
As Sporting KC manager Peter Vermes says in the video, Nagamura can play any one of a number of roles in the midfield. And he can score.
With the way Sporting KC plays, they want offensive weapons all over the field so that teams never know where the shot is going to come from. Nagamura should fit in well with the style, and he should also fill a leadership role.
Trade: Bobby Convey (From San Jose)
Bobby Convey is what I would call a young veteran. He may only be 28, but he is also about to embark on his 13th professional season. Convey joined MLS at the age of 16.
Vermes plans to use Convey in his natural position on the left wing. While in San Jose, Convey played more left back than anything else, but Vermes wants his attacking skills in the midfield. His ability to serve in balls from the left doesn't hurt either. I'm sure he'll be taking plenty of free kicks as well.
Some people have commented that Convey may not fit in well because of the perception that he has a negative attitude. I haven't met him yet, but he seemed to be striking the right tone in his introductory press conference when he said that he would like to stay in Kansas City until he retires. We'll see what happens.
Draft: Dom Dwyer (University of South Florida)
One of the needs that Vermes felt he had to address with the draft was depth at forward. First-round SuperDraft pick Dom Dwyer should fit the bill quite nicely.
When asked who he would compare his playing style to, Dwyer said, "A less aggressive Luke Rodgers." After talking with Vermes, I think a more appropriate way to say it would be a more "under control" Luke Rodgers. I have nothing against Rodgers, but as Vermes said, he does get a little too aggressive sometimes.
Dwyer is about my height (and I'm 5'7"), but he's solid as a brick. He also scores goals in bunches. In his one season at USF, he scored 16 goals. What's even more impressive is his goal total from Tyler Community College in Texas. He scored 52 times in his two seasons there (15 in the first and 37 in the second).
With Teal Bunbury probably missing time for the Olympics, and the departure of Omar Bravo, Dwyer will probably be asked to make an impact as a rookie. That's something Sporting KC rookie forwards have a knack for doing. Just ask Rookie of the Year C.J. Sapong.
Draft: Cyprian Hedrick (Coastal Carolina)
Another area I thought needed addressing was the depth (or lack thereof) at central defender. Second-round SuperDraft pick Cyprian Hedrick was a step in the right direction.
From the little I've seen of him, Hedrick is good on the ball, athletic and good in the air. He's also not afraid to get forward and be an offensive threat as well.
Draft: Shawn Singh (UCLA)
In the first round of the Supplemental Draft, Vermes selected defender Shawn Singh from UCLA.
Singh played in all 24 matches that UCLA played in 2011, starting 22 of them. He helped lead UCLA to 12 shutouts, which is third all-time in team history. More impressive still is that eight of those were in a row, a school record.
How good was UCLA's men's team in 2011? Six players were drafted by MLS teams this month, two in the SuperDraft and four more in the Supplemental Draft.
Draft: Pablo Punyed (St. John's)
Taken with the 32nd overall pick in the Supplemental Draft was midfielder Pablo Punyed from St. John's University.
Punyed was named Co-Midfielder of the Year in the Big East in 2011, tallying four goals and three assists in 2011. He also played with the U-20 national team in the Copa Chivas.
Draft: Stefan Antonijevic (Valparaiso)
Another defensive piece of the puzzle is defender Stefan Antonijevic from Valparaiso.
I've watched some of the video I've linked here (it's an hour long because it includes the second half of a game). Antonijevic seems to be fairly athletic, distributes the ball well from the back and is good in the air. Considering that he's an entire foot taller than I am at 6'7", he better be good in the air.
Although he played primarily as a central defender, he also scored eight goals and had three assists in his three seasons at Valpo. As a senior, he was selected to the All Conference First Team as well as the NSCAA Great Lakes Regional First Team.
Draft: Kyle Miller (Rockhurst)
Defender Kyle Miller is a former member of the Sporting KC Juniors Academy. The Hawks defense allowed only seven goals in the 2011 season, fewest in the country, and helped Rockhurst reach the NCAA tournament quarterfinals.
Miller's standout senior season saw him receive All-Conference, All-Midwest and All-American honors. In his 80 matches for Rockhurst, he tallied three goals and seven assists.
Trade: Michael Thomas (From San Jose)
Selected in the 2010 MLS SuperDraft (19th overall selection) by the San Jose Earthquakes, Michael Thomas chose to play professionally in Sweden instead. San Jose retained his MLS rights, which Sporting KC acquired in exchange for the club's fourth-round pick in last week's Supplemental Draft.
Thomas, a graduate of St. Thomas Aquinas High School, played in the same club soccer setup as new teammates Seth Sinovic and Matt Besler. He later joined Besler at the University of Notre Dame, where he started 81 matches, tallying 19 goals and 13 assists. Thomas received first team All-Big East honors in his senior season for the Fighting Irish.
Signing: Jacob Peterson (Free Transfer, San Jose)
Forward Jacob Peterson, originally drafted in 2006 by the Colorado Rapids, has scored nine goals and 10 assists in his 138 matches for Colorado, Toronto and San Jose.
A Michigan native, Peterson attended Indiana University and helped the Hoosiers to consecutive national titles in 2003-04. In 2003, he scored the championship winning goal against St. John's to earn Offensive MVP honors at the College Cup. In 2004, he scored the first goal of the College Cup final against UCSB as Indiana went on to win in penalty kicks.
Peterson represented the United States on the U-17 national team that advanced to the round of 16 at the 2003 U-17 World Championships in Finland. He was also on the U-20 national team at the 2005 World Youth Cup in Holland. Peterson played in all four matches for the U.S. and scored the game-winner in the final group stage match against Egypt.
While it's too early to tell whether or not these acquisitions will have the desired impact, it is safe to say that Sporting KC has not been satisfied with only winning the regular season Eastern Conference title. These moves are evidence that the team's desire is always to improve on what was there before.
If all goes well, maybe the team will get to paint the wall.