Sunil Chhetri's lone competitive appearance for the Kansas City Wizards (and Sporting Kansas City) came last April (pictured above) against Colorado Rapids in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup.
Well, there's still absolutely nothing on the incoming player front. But, as of Monday afternoon, thanks to a few nuggets dropped by Andrew Wiebe at MLSsoccer.com, we now know that International roster spots are opening up like... (well, there's a joke about Cristiano Ronaldo and the women he associates with in there somewhere.)
Anyways, after speaking with Sporting Kansas City technical director/head coach Peter Vermes, Wiebe reports that Indian forward Sunil Chhetri (who has been with the Indian national team since late July, training for the 2011 AFC Asian Cup, which is currently taking place) and Greek defender Nick Kounenakis are not expected to be back with Kansas City to open the team's brand-new Kansas City Soccer Stadium in 2011. Neither player ever actually made an appearance for the first team in league play, so it was always sort of a foregone conclusion that they would not be back for a second season.
The great thing about these two being allowed to leave, as Wiebe points, is that each occupied an International roster spot. Seeing as how each team has only eight, (Sporting KC has nine, thanks to a trade last year with DC United) those are very precious commodities, as Vermes has said recently.
For what it's worth, Vermes also said that (current) English forward Ryan Smith is continuing to work on his citizenship, which would open up another International slot. After last month's scouting combine in Trinidad produced a pair of T&T internationals as trialists later this month, every International roster slot available could prove to be just that much more valuable.
Chhetri and Kounenakis aren't the only players that will likely be moving on before the 2011 season. More player news and what it all means after the jump...
The other player not expected back for the 2011 season is Hungarian forward Zoltan Hercegfalvi, who also occupies an International roster spot. Zoltan missed the entire 2010 season after ACL surgery last winter. Wiebe tells us, though, that "Vermes said he hasn’t closed the door on bringing back the Hungarian for a look during the preseason." This would depend on his contract situation, and with incoming designated player Omar Bravo joining the team in training camp, playing time at forward will be limited.
From here on out, I'll operate under the assumption that all three players - Chhetri, Kounenakis and Zoltan - will not be on the team's 2011 roster.
Perhaps the biggest news of the day, though, is that Vermes has once again said that "we are very close" and that "we are on one last little thing" in regards to contract renegotiation efforts with SKC rightback Michael Harrington.
Harrington was my choice for Kansas City Wizards Defender of the Year in 2010, because he was simply brilliant in shutting down the best left-sided players Major League Soccer has to offer. So, it doesn't even suffice to say that inking him to a new deal is imperative; especially after Jonathan Leathers, Harrington's top backup in 2010, was selected by Vancouver Whitecaps in the eighth round of the expansion draft. If Harrington isn't re-signed, we may actually be looking for a starting rightback in March's open-to-the-public tryouts.
Also, Wiebe reports that, according to Vermes, the team is very near a deal with re-entry draft selection midfielder Luke Sassano, and that it is, more or less, "just a formality" now.
Sassano, who spent the last three season with New York Red Bulls, would be a welcome addition for the team as far as depth in the midfield and defense go. In the event of an emergency, Sassano could even play rightback if the team is unable to agree upon a new deal with Harrington. Let's just hope it doesn't reach that point. Sassano probably would be better suited as a second half substitue for either Stephane Auvray or Craig Rocastle with the team trying to hold onto a late lead.
Regardless of how anyone feels about the news of today, (and we know that the entire nation of India will flood the SKC Facebook page with "WHY WOULD YOU GET RID OF SUNIL?!" messages) it is nice to just have some real news again, isn't it? Besides, wouldn't India be happier if Chhetri moved to Perth Glory in Australia - much more in their timezone, as Mike at Down The Byline talked about over the weekend?