Khiry Shelton will get an opportunity to showcase his talents for Sporting Kansas City. (Photo courtesy of MLS)

By Michael Lewis

FrontRowSoccer.com Editor

New York City FC continued to beef up and add depth to its backline Thursday as it traded forward Khiry Shelton to Sporting Kansas City for defender Saad Abdul-Salaam.

Abdul-Salaam became the second defender City added to its roster in as many days after signing Swedish international Anton Tinnerholm as a free agent Wednesday.

“I’m just excited to get to NYCFC,” Abdul-Salaam said in a statement. “I didn’t know about the trade until this morning. It’s big news. Going forward, I’m really excited just to play in front of these fans and to get to know Patrick and the coaching staff and my new teammates.

“The goal is to continue to push for MLS Cup with NYCFC. I know the team has been successful the past two years and I’m hoping I can add to it and add some trophies along the way. Playing in Yankee Stadium is really cool – the overall atmosphere carries the game, and I just can’t wait to get started.”

NYCFC head coach Patrick Vieira felt Abdul-Salaam could make an impact on the backline.

“Abdul-Salaam is an experienced player in this league and he’s coming to our team hungry for success,” he said. “I’m really happy to have added another quality player who can help the team to be successful.”

Abdul-Salaam, 26, had been a regular with KC as he was named the team’s 2016 defender of the year as a right back, leading all Major League Soccer defenders with six assists.

However, the former University of Akron standout fell out of favor with the coaching staff last season and wound up sitting the bench for most of the season as U.S. international Graham Zusi playing right back for most of the season. He had one goal and one assist in 12 matches over 902 minutes.

Abdul-Salaam started 10 games for SKC, most times when Zusi was on international duty.

During his three-year tenure in New York, Shelton never quite lived up to his promise, recording six goals and 10 assists in 54 matches as injuries played a major role in keeping him on the sidelines.

Shelton enjoyed a career year in 2016, scoring four goals and assisting on nine others in 13 starts over 22 games and 1,159 minutes. The second overall selection by City in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft, Shelton saw only 15 appearances in 2017, scoring once in three starts over 15 games and 502 minutes.

The 24-year-old Shelton was left unprotected in Tuesday’s MLS expansion draft, but the Los Angeles Football Club did not select him.

“We just want to wish him good luck,” Vieira said. “Khiry will always be a symbol and an important figure in this football club because he was the first player we took in the draft. We wish him good luck in a new chapter in his career.

“I hope that he learned a lot in his time with New York City and that will help him go forward in his career.”


Sam McDowell of the Kansas City Star originally reported the trade. You can read his story here: