As the march to the start of the 2024 MLS regular season continues, Sporting Kansas City continue to look to build out their roster. They currently have just four open roster spots and the ability to make one big splash by signing a Designated Player, but all the other work will be at the fringes of the roster.
On Wednesday, the club announced an updated preseason roster that included another SKC Academy member, defender Ian James. And it also included an additional trialist — Memo Rodriguez.
Who is Memo?
Memo Rodriguez is a 28-year-old pro who has primarily spent his career with the Houston Dynamo. He was a Homegrown signing for the club way back in December of 2014. He was quickly sent on loan in March to the Charleston Battery (USL) where he made his pro debut. He scored about a month later and it would be his only goal in 17 appearances in Charleston.
For the 2016 season, Memo was released by the Dynamo and signed with their affiliate Rio Grande Valley FC. He would start to find his footing, scoring six times and adding seven assists in 30 appearances. He even had a brace against the then, Swope Park Rangers.
That led him to re-signing with the Dynamo in the 2017 season and he’s primarily played in MLS since then. He spent six seasons with the Dynamo and split time in 2023 between the LA Galaxy and Austin FC where he was traded in August.
In his MLS career, he’s never broken 1,600 minutes, but he’s a consistent performer. In 2019 and 2020 he put together a combined 12 goals and four assists and was the most productive statistically of his career.
Where Does Rodriguez Fit?
When looking at the Sporting KC midfield, it’s currently just six signed players. Presumed starters Erik Thommy, Remi Walter and Nemanja Radoja are joined by the only experienced depth in Felipe Hernandez and two younger players with little (Danny Flores) to no (Ozzie Cisneros) MLS experience.
When looking at who Rodriguez compares to most, I’d call him a poor man’s Erik Thommy. He can play centrally, but he has quite a bit of experience playing wide left, which is exactly like Thommy. Also, he’s more attack oriented like Thommy.
If the team were to sign rumored target Kellyn Acosta or even go with someone like Hayes, Rodriguez could easily still be signed too because he would fill a need those others wouldn’t.
Memo Rodriguez is on trial with #SportingKC for preseason. I'm calling him the poor man's Erik Thommy.
— Chad Smith (@PlayFor90) January 25, 2024
In 2023, Memo made a very palatable $210,167 in guaranteed compensation ($180,000 in base pay). Considering his underlying numbers, and his experience level, it’s not a bad option to have as a backup to Thommy if the team isn’t going to make a huge splash and sign a Designated Player to replace Gadi Kinda.
Sporting could be all in on Thommy as the starter but Memo, or someone of his profile, could step in to soak up some minutes in a very long season. Even if the team is forced to start him for stretches, it probably wouldn’t be a complete disaster, though it’d be a downgrade.
The club will be in action again on Friday against Charlotte FC in their second preseason game. Jacori Hayes, the other trialist, didn’t appear in the first game so we’ll keep an eye out if he or Memo Rodirguez show up in this game.