Sporting Kansas City parts ways with midfielder Ilie Sanchez among offseason moves

Club exercises options for MF Gutierrez, D Lindsey
Ilie Sanchez
Posted at 2:51 PM, Nov 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-30 15:56:08-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Sporting Kansas City has exercised its club options with midfielder Felipe Gutierrez and defender Jaylin Lindsey and are engaged in discussions with three other players ahead of the 2022 season.

The club also announced Tuesday that it has declined contract options for six other players, including midfielder Ilie Sanchez, two days after getting bounced from the MLS Cup Playoffs.

Sporting KC remains “in discussions” with right back Graham Zusi, midfielder Roger Espinoza and goalkeeper Kendall McIntosh.

The club has declined contract options for Amadou Dia, Wilson Harris, Luis Martins, Roberto Puncec and Brooks Thompson in addition to Sanchez. Graham Smith’s contract with the club also is up.

Sanchez is unlikely to re-sign with SKC during free agency, a club source said.

Among field players, Sanchez logged the third-most minutes (2,506) in 2021 for Sporting KC, which finished third in the Western Conference and lost in the conference semifinals Sunday against Real Salt Lake.

He had only one goal with no assists in 30 games, including 27 starts.

The 31-year-old Sanchez, a native of Barcelona, played five seasons for the club, totaling seven goals and 12 assists in 144 career appearances primarily as a defensive midfielder.

Sporting KC currently has 20 players under contract. Teams are allowed to have up to 30 players on the active roster, per MLS rules.

Sporting KC currently has two goalkeepers, Tim Melia and John Pulskamp, on the roster along with five defenders — Lindsey, Andreu Fontas, Nicolas Isimat-Marin, Kayden Pierce and Kaveh Rad.

The club has seven midfielders and six forwards, including its five leading scorers from the 2021 season and top four players in assists.

Forward Daniel Salloi, a finalist for MLS MVP, led Sporting KC in goals (16) and shared the team lead in assists (eight).

Forward Johnny Russell finished the season with a flurry and nearly matched Salloi with 15 goals and eight assists.

Midfielder Gai Kinda also had a team-high eight assists and added five goals for SKC, while forward Khiry Shelton finished with six assists and finished with three goals.

Forward Alan Pulido finished third on Sporting KC with eight goals in 21 matches.

The other midfielders on the roster are Ozzie Cisneros, Jake Davis, Cam Duke, Jose Mauri and Remi Walter.

The remaining forwards are Grayson Barber and Tyler Freeman.

Sporting KC will be allowed to protect 12 players in the upcoming MLS Expansion Draft. Homegrown Players — a group that includes Barber, Cisneros, Davis, Duke, Freeman, Hernandez, Lindsey, Pulskamp, Rad and Salloi — are automatically protected.

There will be a half-day trade window on Dec. 12 before the league conducts an expansion draft for Charlotte FC on Dec. 14.

Free agency opens Dec. 15 and the 2022 MLS SuperDraft is slated for Jan. 11.