By Sporting KC News
The 2018 midfield of SKC was an exceptional one, with a few new players. Let's take a look at each player to see how they did.
Ilie was arguably the best player for Sporting in 2019, but he was the most important. In 2018, Ilie played every single minute for SKC, and it’s hard to imagine this team without him. Everything revolves around Ilie, and he is equipped to handle the responsibility. Ilie signed a new contract that runs through 2021, and he will most likely receive a larger salary for his performances.
Espinoza was fantastic in 2018. As usual, he was a powerhouse, but he also added more to his attacking game. Roger provided 3 goals and 9 assists, both career highs. One might attribute that to the lack of a clear attacking midfielder, but for Espinoza, it was just another season.
Gutierrez started very hot in MLS. He scored 5 goals in 5 games, earning MLS Player of the Month for March. Unfortunately, he had a sports hernia surgery, and he didn’t play again until July. Felipe was very inconsistent when he came returned, but he quietly worked his way back to being dangerous and menacing. With a full season, who knows who great can Gutierrez can be.
Croizet did not have the best start with SKC. He made a bad impression with the media and fans because he did not adjust to the league as quickly as guys like Johnny Russell and Felipe Gutierrez. Over time, he acclimatized and became a dangerous weapon, especially off the bench. Whenever the team was slipping into complacency, Croizet would come into the game and disrupt everything in favor of SKC. Also, his versatility is unmatched by most players. This season he played left back, attacking midfielder, left wing, right wing, and as a false 9. Many people still see Croizet as the new guy who gave away the ball too many times and looked like he didn’t know what he was doing, but he’s become a real asset for SKC.
Kuzain started the year on a Swope Park Rangers contract. However, he received a Homegrown contract, less than two months into the season. From there, he made a couple first team appearances in the midfield. Kuzain completed a high number of his passes and grew into the game. In the end, players returned from injury, and he fell down the depth chart. Kuz returned to playing for the Rangers, where he was a rock. The 20-year-old has a bright future with SKC.
Busio, the 16-year-old with attacking talent. He had to wait a while for his debut, but everyone saw his talent when he made his first MLS start in August. In that game, he notched the game-winning assist, caused a red card, and was one of the better players throughout the game. Nonetheless, Busio did not start another game this season. Vermes did show his trust in Busio when he subbed him on in multiple games when SKC were protecting or chasing a lead. Big things are expected from Busio in his career, but will he be able to live up to the hype?