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Sporting KC picks up option, re-signs 6 veterans from 2022 team

MF Hernandez, GK Melia among those returning
Felipe Hernández
Tim Melia
Posted at 1:06 PM, Nov 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-15 14:06:04-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Sporting Kansas City exercised contract options on three veteran players, declined options on three others, announced the signing of three other veterans to new contracts and announced plans to bring back a trio of fan favorites Tuesday as the MLS offseason rolls along.

The club re-signed midfielder Felipe Hernandez, forward Khiry Shelton and goalkeeper Tim Melia, who were all out of contract.

Hernandez had two goals and three assists in 34 appearances, including 16 starts, last season. Shelton, who will be entering his fifth season with Sporting KC, had a goal and an assist in 24 appearances last season. He has 11 goals and 13 assists in 95 career appearances with the club.

Melia, who started a team-high 21 games in goal with a 1.65 goals-against average, signed a two-year deal through the 2024 season, while Shelton and Hernandez agreed to three-year contracts with a team option for the 2026 season.

Sporting KC also exercised team options for midfielder Cam Duke, defender Kortne Ford and goalkeeper Kendall McIntosh.

Duke had career-highs with 26 appearances and 13 starts for SKC last season, finishing with a career-best three assists.

Ford, who is originally from Olathe, made 14 appearances, including nine starts, in his first season with Sporting KC before a 10-game suspension for violating the MLS performance-enhancing drug rules.

McIntosh started two games in goal for Sporting KC in 2022.

The club declined team options for defenders Nicolas Isimat-Mirin, Kaveh Rad and Graham Zusi.

However, Sporting KC noted that it’s in negotiations with Zusi, midfielder Roger Espinoza and centerback Andreu Fontas to remain with the club in 2023.

Sporting KC currently has 23 players under contract for the 2023 MLS season. That group includes six forwards, nine midfielders, five defenders and three goalkeepers:

Forwards (6) — Willy Agada, Ozzie Cisneros, Alan Pulido, Johnny Russell, Daniel Salloi, Khiry Shelton
Midfielders (9) — Jake Davis, Cam Duke, Felipe Hernandez, Gadi Kinda, Nemanja Radoja, Uri Rosell, Erik Thommy, Marinos Tzionis, Remi Walter
Defenders (5) — Kortne Ford, Logan Ndenbe, Kayden Pierre, Ben Sweat, Robi Voloder
Goalkeepers (3) — Kendall McIntosh, Tim Melia, John Pulskamp

MLS free agency begins Wednesday with the different stages of the MLS Re-Entry Draft during the next two weeks. The MLS SuperDraft is slated for Dec. 21.

Sporting Kansas City II also announced that it exercised contract options for Bakary Bagayoko, Ethan Bandre, Josh Coan and Mikey Lenis.

The club declined contract options for Paul Atta Agyei, Kian Alberto, T.J. Fatah, Collin Fernandez, Josip Hmura, Cole McLagan, Rauf Salifu, Joseph Addo Tetteh, Cade Thomson and Julian Vazquez.