Friday, January 7, 2011

Uche Okafor has died at 43 (Updated)

There are numerous reports from overseas that former Kansas City Wizards defender Uche Okafor was found dead in his home. I have contacted authorities in Dallas and they have no record of his death. The Dallas Police have checked with other law enforcement organizations around the Dallas area and have not been able to verify his death. I should have an update a little later today.

Okafor was one of the original Kansas City Wiz players. He quickly became a fixture on the back line alongside Sean Bowers. Okafor also played over 30 games for the Nigerian National Team and attended two World Cups with Nigeria. He was 43.

Update: Sadly it has been confirmed that Okafor has died. He was found in his home in Little Elm, Tx and the County Medical Examiner is investigating the cause of death.

My condolences to his family, friends and players...

Thursday, January 6, 2011

One more thing

One thing I forgot to include in the previous post with Sporting Kansas City's Head Coach Peter Vermes. My apologies to everyone, I was a little rushed and a lot not feeling well so I missed one of my notes.

During our conversation, one of the topics we talked about was the fact that there were no signings yet this year and it was the same last year at this time. All the signing last year came later. With the exception of Omar Bravo who was signed a few months ago and Sassano that was picked up in the Re-entry Draft, Kansas City has not added anyone to the roster in this off season. For most fans that is not news. Out of that conversation came one piece of news that I thought was interesting and I had not seen anyone else reference it yet.

It seems that next year there could be some changes to the discovery rule and it looks like teams will have a lot more flexibility regarding signing those discoveries. That could move signings up earlier in the process and make it more clear what a team needs in the draft. It sounds like Vermes may have had some input on changing that process as well.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Sporting Kansas City Coach Vermes headed to the Draft

Sporting Kansas City Technical Director and Head Coach Peter Vermes leaves town today. First stop is the US U-20 camp and then on to the MLS Combine to watch and make final evaluations on players that will be eligible in next week's MLS draft. Draft eligible players Perry Kitchen, Zarek Valentin, Zak MacMath and Omar Salgado are in the U.S. Under-20 camp and won't take part in the Combine.

This year’s Player Combine includes a few non-collegiate foreign players including midfielder Paolo Cardozo (Uruguay), forward Victor Estupinan (Ecuador), midfielder Marlon Ganchozo (Ecuador), midfielder Martin Rivas (Argentina), and midfielder John Rooney (England). Rooney is the little brother of Manchester United forward Wayne Rooney.

Vermes says that he and his staff "have probably seen 95% of the players in the combine already. The exception being the foreign guys. The foreign players are more of an experiment, the previous time it did not go so well. This time they tried to put more of a quality control around it."

While they have seen the majority of the players already Vermes explained, the combine is a chance to see them in a higher level of competition with so many good players. Confirming what they know in some cases and seeing some guys challenged a little more.

Age old draft question: Do you draft to fill a specific need or do you take the best players available?

Easy question to ask but not an easy question to answer for Coach Vermes. "With the reserve league returning, they need to add more players in different spots. It's hard to find forwards, real attacking players out of the college game. It was almost a no-brainer for us last year when Teal was still available, that we had to take Teal. Certain situations where when players are available that it is not how they fit into the team, but also who is the best talent at that time. Another piece is the Generation Adidas tag, it is huge when that guy does not hit your salary cap. You have to take into account who is available when it is your pick." Coach explained that a lot of team have targets in the draft but those targets are not always there; "that is why teams have timeouts so they can have a chance to reevaluate."

Two mock drafts have Kansas City taking UNC defender Jalil Anibaba based upon KC being thin on defense with Jimmy Conrad leaving. I have not seen mock draft be very close, have you?


Okay the answer was a lot longer than that and just about impossible to get a short enough quote to use. Suffice it to say that with all of the complexities involved, it is difficult for a mock draft to be very accurate. The people doing the mock draft do not know what free agents are preparing to sign, what trades are in negotiations and they would have to know that for all the teams. Coach Vermes also pointed out that Kansas City may not be as shorthanded as people think, "we still have Jamaican National Team Captain Shavar Thomas and Matt Besler ."

With the need to continue to develop players, does Sporting Kansas City plan on opening a Residential Academy?

They started talking about residential academies 4 years ago, "but not until the new fields near the stadium get built, but there is a lot to go into it, school and a ton of other things" Vermes explained.

With the limited number of foreign player slots, are there any more players that may be changing nationality status?

"Ryan Smith is still working on his US citizenship and is only one piece of his case away. KC would not need to use a foreign player slot on him and he would be eligible for US National team. "

Player status: I have heard that Jimmy Nielsen was re-signed but I've never seen an official statement.

"Kansas City did exercise Nielsen's option for this year."

Michael Harrington?

"We're kind of close, it is in his hands now. He and his agent need to make a decision on one last piece, so I think we are pretty close."

Luke Sassano?

"That one is really, really close. More just a formality of sending something to the league. "

This is cross posted at

Monday, January 3, 2011

Podcast: Byline 2 Backpost 12/31/2010

The latest podcast is now available.

We discuss all the news around Sporting Kansas City and the Missouri Comets.

Get it from iTunes



Jimmy Conrad: One of only two players to have worn a Sporting Kansas City jersey. His going to Chivas is of course one of the topics we discuss.