Kansas City, Kan. (January 30, 2018)- Sporting KC has reportedly signed Scottish forward, Johnny Russell. The club has yet to confirm, but all reports indicate it’s a matter of when, not if, the deal is made official.
Sporting KC reportedly add Scottish forward Johnny Russell
Monday was an incredibly busy day across the MLS landscape. The morning started with this rumor, and by the end of the day we had an official expansion announcement in Miami, news that Cyle Larin was officially a member of Besiktas, and Jack Harrison to Man City (to Middlesborough) rumors.
The first one was of course washed away in a wave of announcements throughout the day, but it broke early in the day. News of Russell’s move to “The States” began to break early in the day across the pond. Derby County’s manager said during a press conference that Russell had declined a deal with the team and instead was looking at opportunities in MLS. Then the news broke quickly that Russell was headed to Sporting KC. Sam McDowell of the Kansas City Star confirmed shortly after.
Russell can play across all attacking positions, but is mainly a winger, and will likely be deployed as such with Sporting KC. The left-footed attacker has played for Derby County since the 2013/2014 season, scoring 30 goals and notching 29 assists in the English Championship. Russell has been a fixture in the Derby Starting XI since he joined them. He spent all of his youth and early professional career in Scotland. Across all appearances in his professional career, Russell has notched 85 goals and 52 assists.
The 27 year old will certainly look to bring his penchant for goals to Sporting KC after the team’s offense stalled out almost all year long. The team scored only 40 goals in 34 matches, one of the lowest totals in the league, only four teams scored less. The addition of proven goal-scorers has been an objective of Sporting’s from the moment they lost to Houston in the postseason. They’ve been very public this season about their willingness to spend this offseason, and they aren’t expected to be done spending on the attack.
While the European Transfer window closes soon, MLS teams can still sign players until their own window closes. The window applies to the team receiving the transfer, not to the window that the team who the player is coming from, adheres to. Last season the MLS Transfer window closed at the beginning of May, so the date is likely the same this year. Sporting KC seem to still be intent on making another move outside of this one.
This move works out really well for Sporting KC. He’s not on a DP transfer fee, and they have more than enough TAM to buy down his contract which is likely at, or above the DP threshold. If they are unable to get a DP Striker in this initial window and need to wait until the summer, Russell could actually fill in that role. While he’s played on the wing mostly for Derby, his most prolific period in his career came as a striker with Dundee in the SPL.
In 86 games in his career there, he’s scored 26 goals and registered 15 assists. That’s primarily where he played his entire time until moving to Derby. So if Diego Rubio isn’t getting the job done, and they don’t have a new DP striker yet, Russell might be worth a shout at the position. It’s a great move if they get their DP striker before opening day in March. If they don’t have one by the end of the primary transfer window, then this could be downgraded to “Decent.”