As the 2016 MLS season edges closer, we’ll be publishing each team’s MLS 2016 Season Preview. Today we take a look at what Sporting Kansas City will be looking to achieve this season.
The 2015 season wasn’t the greatest for Sporting Kansas City. Despite finishing in a playoff place, they will feel disappointed that their season ended in the knockout round as they were knocked out by eventual MLS Cup winners Portland Timbers on penalties. They were flying along at the midpoint of the regular season and looked set to challenge for the Supporters’ Shield. But a distinctly average run through the latter stages cost them as they finished with two losses from their last three. They did manage to lift the 2015 US Open Cup and will be proud of that success but Sporting KC will expect to achieve more in MLS in 2016. We’re honestly not sure what SKC will bring this season but the loss of Krisztian Nemeth is sure to affect them upfront.Embed from Getty Images
Last season’s finish:
Western Conference – Position: 6th – P34 – W14 – D9 – L11
What needs to change this year?
Their first eleven shouldn’t change too drastically this year, which could benefit them massively over the course of the season. The addition of Brad Davis will help add valuable experience to the squad and will help them in clutch situations, though the loss of Nemeth is a blow. In terms of things that need addressing, their discipline has to improve. SKC picked up 71 yellow cards and nine red cards last term, making them the most ‘aggressive’ team in MLS. It’s also worth a mention that their away form will need to improve. With only four wins from their 17 road trips last term, they will need to pick up more points away from Sporting Park if they are to improve on last year’s finish. We will say, however, the limited changes to the first team should pay dividends and SKC fans should be optimistic for the coming season.Embed from Getty Images
Key changes to squad:
Ins: Lawrence Olum – Defender, Alec Kann – Goalkeeper, Justin Mapp – Midfielder, Brad Davis – Midfielder, Daniel Salloi – Forward & Nuno Andre Coelho – Defender
Outs: Jalil Anibaba – Defender, Mikey Lopez – Midfielder, Krisztian Nemeth – Forward, Erik Palmer-Brown – Defender, Bernardo Anor – Midfielder & Amobi Okugo – Midfielder
Dom Dwyer – Forward – English striker Dom Dwyer had, by his high standards, an average year in 2015, only scoring 12, which is a half-decent return. However, Dwyer managed 22 goals in 2014 so a drop by ten goals over a season will have disappointed the pacey forward. Being the senior striker now for SKC may take some getting used to and the previously mentioned loss of Krisztian Nemeth will only add to the reliance on Dwyer to score goals. This is a team that needs to be in the playoffs and Dwyer has a huge part to play once again this season.Embed from Getty Images
One to Watch:
Daniel Salloi – Forward – Salloi moved to the US in 2014 as an exchange student and joined SKC’s Under-18 squad, scoring 21 goals in 28 games. The 19-year-old forward knows how to score frequently, the question is will he see enough minutes to prove his worth in MLS this year. He is SKC’s first Homegrown Player in nearly three years and has previously spent time in Hungary’s first division on an amateur contract with Ujpest FC. He has potential to be crucial but is unproven at this level. Time will tell how he fairs but he is an exciting prospect.
Western Conference – 7th – The decline of Sporting Kansas City over the course of 2015 should not go unnoticed. They only won three of their last 12 games and might struggle as they enter 2016, with the loss of Nemeth a really significant one. If no replacement is brought in, SKC are likely to struggle to score enough and that could cost them a playoff spot. They just edged into the postseason last term but don’t look like they have improved enough to do any better this season and so a tough year could be in store.
What are you expecting from Sporting Kansas City in 2016?