Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Kansas City says goodbye to Wolff and Conrad

Major League Soccer is a business. Today it was made official that Josh Wolff and Jimmy Conrad, two relatively long time Wizards, were picked up by other teams. Very simply, both were out of contract at the end of the past season and the Sporks (my new favorite name for "Sporting Kansas City") did not renew with either veteran.

Josh Wolff played two stints with the Wizards for a total of 144 games. For most of his time with KC the forward was an efficient scorer and a tireless chaser. During the 2009 season Wolff had a very solid year erasing any doubts that his age (he was 32 at the time) and two ACL surgeries would hinder his production. Unfortunately this past season Wolff hit a wall. He seemed a step slower, a death sentence for a soccer forward. Professional soccer is a cruel world, in the end young legs dethrone older ones. Wolff still performed admirably as a sub, but his $200k plus salary is too much for such a role player. Wolff moves on to DC United for the 2011 season. He finished his time in Kansas City with 144 games played and 43 goals. He has served on the U.S. Men's National team in 52 games (called "caps") scoring 9 goals. He was a member of the 2002 U.S. World Cup team. On a personal note- I met Josh Wolff at a local restaurant a little over a year ago. We had a ten minute conversation about various issues related to the way MLS works and the challenges of being a player with contracts that are so screwy. I found him to be very personable and dedicated. Best wishes to Josh Wolff and his family going forward.

Jimmy Conrad has been the heart and soul of Kansas City soccer since his arrival from the San Jose Earthquakes in 2003. Conrad immediately established himself as one of the premier defenders in MLS and was constantly rumored to be heading to play in one of the higher leagues over seas. He won "Defender of the Year" honors in 2004 and served as the Wizards Captain for three seasons. Like Wolff, Conrad has been a part of the U.S. Men's National team and played in the 2006 World Cup. Jimmy Conrad played 8 seasons and 204 games with the Kansas City Wizards. Jimmy Conrad has been our family's collective favorite. Up till this past year he has been as solid as they come. I would tell my sons- "If you want to see how center back is played, watch Conrad's every move". This past season was a difficult one for Conrad. He just wasn't himself. He made errors totally uncharacteristic of him. I think the problem is more than age. He was never a speedster, just extremely smart and nasty tough. Something happened when Vermes took the helm as coach and Conrad was stripped of the "C" at the beginning of the 2010 campaign. Many of us figured it was Jimmy's last year as a Wizard. I am sure Conrad would admit 2010 was a season to forget, but I would like to offer a simple defense. Since Nick Garcia left three seasons ago, Conrad has been given about a dozen different partners at center back, several of them rookies. It would be very hard for any experienced center back to do well switching partners in the middle back that much. Conrad definitely has a year or two as a starter left in him, but not with Thomas or Besler as his partner. Again, on a personal note, I have met Jimmy Conrad several times and he has even participated in some ridiculous spoof videos for us when we've asked him to be a clown. He's a class guy with a real heart for the community in which he lives. I understand why Conrad was let go, although not as much as I get the Wolff move. I am disappointed our last picture of such a significant player in the KC franchise has to be Jimmy with an awkward half smile on his face being forced to model the new Sporting Kansas City jersey. Why did the Wizards brass make him do that if they knew they weren't going to bring him back? There will always be something that sets wrong with me about that night and the way Conrad looked modeling the new Sporks shirt. Best wishes to Jimmy Conrad and family as the move to California for him to play for Chivas USA.


MOUFWASH said...

Could be that Jimmy wanted to be at the announcement, to see the fans, as he is a nice guy.

I am not sure how many years he really has left. He can still "play", but if going forward is should be no surprise the FO choose to keep the other lumbering CB in Thomas instead of Jimmy, Shavar had a better year.

Sad to see both go from a personality standpoint, glad from a club standpoint.

Reepicheep said...

As a coach I just don't believe in anyone who lumbers in the CB position. Even if you have one lumbering CB and a guy like Besler running all over, I think it's a net loss against most forwards. MLS lets you get away with it.

Jimmy had a horrible year. It could mean his effectiveness as a starter is over. On the other hand, he could bounce back. I'll take an improved Conrad over Thomas any day.