Goodbye to Jonathon Leathers. Best of luck in Canada. (Photo by G. Newman Lowrance/Getty Images)
Had you told me that, going into the 2010 MLS Expansion Draft on Wednesday afternoon, all Sporting Kansas City would lose from their roster would be defender Jonathons Leathers, I would have said that of the three or four players that were in the most danger of being selected, I would let him go before defender Shavar Thomas and midfielder Chance Myers.
I liked Leathers as a player, no doubt. But, his role on the team is one that can be filled in far more easily than a starting center back, like Thomas. Myers has age (only 22) on his side and still has untapped potential. Whether or not he realizes that potential ever, remains to be seen. But, with Leathers, you kind of already knew what he was
On the current roster, he wasn't going to be cracking the starting XI with regularity anytime soon. Michael Harrington has the rightback spot more than locked down for the foreseeable future, and he is only a situational fill-in at centerback against a pair of speedy forwards.
His possibilities with KC were always going to be limited. And, at least with Vancouver Whitecaps he is going to get a chance to play, and hopefully start. In limited action he looked like he had the ability to be a starting rightback in the league. Best of luck to you, Jonathon.
As far as the rest of the roster goes, KC dodged somewhat of a bullet, as previously stated, in keeping Thomas on the roster. With the chances of Jimmy Conrad returning to KC for 2011 shrinking by the day, head coach Peter Vermes really does need to keep at least one half of the starters in centeral defense intact. And, with Conrad on his way out, Thomas is that guy.
I was never a huge fan of Thomas throughout the year. He always looked slightly out of shape to me, and he is always going to be lacking for serious pace. He had one moment in Colorado this year that I swore he was going to drop dead from lack of oxygen. But, outside of that, there's nothing wrong with him as a starting centerback in this league, as long as he is partnered with someone slightly smaller and more athletic.
As of right now, the starting XI looks just like it did at the end of the seaosn:
Jimmy Nielsen in goal, Harrington and Roger Espinoza manning the fullback spots, Thomas and Conrad (for now) in the center of defense, captain Davy Arnaud and Craig Rocastle playing the center mid spots with Stephane Auvray the holding midfielder, Ryan Smith the winger on the left side of attack, (hopefully) Kei Kamara playing the center forward spot and Teal Bunbury wide on the right.
The addition of Designated Player Omar Bravo could mix up the forward options a bit, but for the most part, at present moment, you know who Vermes would run out there if playing a game tomorrow.
I believe that I have pinpointed the player that team president Robb Heineman spoke about in his interview with Thad Bell a couple weeks ago now. If my belief is right, this is a player that will certainly fill that role of a much more athletic centerback to partner with Thomas; someone much like Leathers, that also plays some rightback. I'll spill more on that when I am able to, but for now, just know that there are going to be plenty changes coming, just as there were before the 2010 season.
Heineman wants to win, and he's ready to do it now.