KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Sporting Kansas City will miss the MLS Cup playoffs for just the second time under manager Peter Vermes, but their end-of-the-season unbeaten streak gives fans something to look forward to in 2023.
Aided by the arrival of German midfielder Erik Thommy and Nigerian striker Willy Agada, Sporting KC have gone unbeaten in six straight matches and have scored 14 goals in that span.
Thommy and Agada have scored a combined 10 goals since their arrival.
Their arrival provided a spark that helped turnaround a “doom and gloom” season for the club who had been held scoreless in four straight games across all competitions before that point.
The duo were brought in midseason to fill voids in roles left by season-ending knee surgeries for designated players Alan Pulido and Gadi Kinda.
In 2023, Vermes will now have more talent on the roster than originally expected and with a contract extension for Hungarian forward Daniel Salloi, the club is positioned to continue their spell of offensive soccer.
The club still has questions on the defensive side of the ball, starting with goalkeeper.
Homegrown product John Pulskamp has been filling in for veteran Tim Melia who has been injured. Melia joined Sporting in 2015 and has gone on to have a decorated career in goal.
With a 15-year age difference between the two goalkeepers and Pulskamp earning valuable minutes to end the season, it may be time for a passing of the torch, elevating third-string goalkeeper Kendall McIntosh to the back-up role.
Age versus youth will also be a question in regards to the left and right back positions.
Logan Ndenbe, 22, was brought in in the offseason and homegrown Kayden Pierre, 19, made his first-team debut this season and have both shown flashes of good soccer, but have also struggled at times.
Ben Sweat. 31, and Graham Zusi, 36, are the veterans who have shared minutes in those roles.
Though the defense has shored up as of late, they are one goal away from tying the second-most goals allowed in a season in franchise history. With two games left in the season, SKC has allowed 52 goals.
Finding the balance has been part of what has led Vermes to be the longest-tenured manager in Major League Soccer, but the task will on his, his staff’s and fans’ minds as they head into the offseason.