Sunil Chhetri juggling the ball in practice...
Chhetri (#19) heading ball against Man U
Sporting Kansas City announced four roster moves Monday. Sporting did not pick up the option for Sunil Chhetri, Nick Kounenakis was released by "mutual consent" and pre-season cuts of draft picks JT Murray and Sam Scales.
Sunil Chhetri only appeared in one Open Cup game and the friendly with Manchester United, never making the bench during a league game. Kounenakis did appear on the bench a few times but never made it to the field for Kansas City.
Murray, a defender was the 2nd round (32nd overall) pick for Kansas City in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft out of the University of Louisville.
Scales, a midfielder taken in the first round of the MLS Supplemental Draft from Ohio State University.
Chhetri and Kounenakis were no surprise at all. Neither has been with the team this pre-season. In fact, with Kounenakis the only surprise is it was not officially reported already. I reported Kounenakis was released on Jan 24th and was just waiting on the official release.
Chhetri was in limbo while waiting to see if a deal could be worked out. Vermes had said they were working on bringing Chhetri back if the situation was right. Sporting wanted to sign him and loan him out so he could get playing time. Chhetri is a great finisher but he needed to work on a lot of other aspects of his game and he needed actual games against better opponents than he was used to previously. So apparently no deal was reached and will not be. I will try to find out what was the deal breaker not that it matters.
Murray and Scales were also not a huge surprise. Neither player was mentioned by Vermes in the post game press conference after the pre-season tie with Columbus. When asked about which new guys were fitting into the system, Vermes mentioned all of the other draft picks; Sapong, Mravec, Warzycha and Jones.
Both Murray and Scales looked decent in their first week of training in Kansas City. Scales initially impressed when he was the winner of one of the beep test groups. Many fans will probably find the release of Murray to be the most disappointing since he was a second round draft pick. I don't think it is that unexpected that a second round pick would be released with all of the competition in camp, it is a mild surprise it is this early. The early release of a second rounder will be pointed at as a failure of scouting but it may also be a triumph of scouting that lower draft picks and trialists are still there.
When Murray was drafted it was mentioned that he would be cover for Espinoza when he was called up for Honduras (like in the Gold Cup this summer). Note an unknown trialist (#4) played at left back in the second session of the Columbus game.
While it is unknown why the two were released this early, it is easy to assume that other players in camp showed more promise for the style Vermes wants to play. Stiff competition from trialists, other draft picks, possible homegrown players and returning Sporting KC players may have just been too much.
Expect a couple more moves this week as Vermes trims his roster to the players with the best chance of making the team.
Kounenakis at practice