Former Sporting KC left winger Omar Bravo celebrates scoring one of the team goals of the season against Chivas USA.
When Omar Bravo left Sporting Kansas City in 2012 he not only left the club without a true leader, he left the club without a true left winger. Sure CJ Sapong spent some time there in 2011 but we all know CJ is at his best when he's in the middle of Sporting KC's three pronged attack. Michael Harrington and Chance Seth Sinovic came up in talks, but they are a lot more effective pushing forward from the left back position than they are trying to run at the opposing team's defense. Thankfully however, the Sporting KC technical staff has been able to address both the problems left by the departure of club talisman Omar Bravo by bringing in Bobby Convey.
Bobby brings with him a pedigree of international football and skill with that ball that hasn't been seen on the left wing, since, well, Omar Bravo. Some fans even describing the players as a like for like switch. Before Bravo and Convey, however, Ryan Smith was our speedy international footballer that would terrorize defenses before he left the team in the summer of 2011 for personal reasons. And before Smith there was Claudio Lopez, a Argentinian winger that will go down in history as Kansas City's first ever designated player, and will also most likely be remembered for his 60 yard screamer against LA Galaxy at the Wizards' previous home stadium Community America Ballpark. Before Lopez and even in between Lopez's and Smith's tenure as top left winger at the club there is a gap. A gap of real difference makers we could trust and get behind on the left wing.
Oddly enough guys that have played on the left wing in the past couple of seasons for KC have actually tended to be non-American. Most of those guys came from South and Central America including names like Herculez Gomez, Roger Espinoza and Carlos Marinelli. In fact, the last American to consistently start on the left wing for Sporting Kansas City was Michael Harrington back in 2007, who is of course now a full back at the club.
But what does this mean? Well, for me - as I have stated in previous posts - I believe there is a direct correlation between international players and the higher level of skill they have with the ball at their feet. I tend to think that this is the case especially when you compare guys like Smith, Lopez, and Bravo, to American Michael Harrington.
Going back to another American in the way of Bobby Convey though, I think he might be the first American on the left wing that can actually dribble at defenses and get balls into the box for our forwards to get on to since Harrington played there. From watching him play for San Jose the past couple of years and reading numerous articles I can already tell you Convey is an excellent crosser. Which is something that the team sorely missed on the left hand side last season. As good as Bravo was at scoring last year from the left wing I think Convey will be more of a guy that sets people up from the wing and might just lead the team in assists.
I know a lot of people wanted Peter Vermes and co. to bring in a flashy new winger to replace Bravo but for now, we're left with good old Bobby Convey. Whether or not he will have the same impact as Bravo did is a whole other story but I think we'll find he may just bring the leadership and crossing ability Sporting KC have been lacking.