Conrad bids Kansas City good luck, farewell
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Jimmy Conrad has been stuck in contract limbo for most of this offseason, but he hasn’t lost his sense of humor just yet.
Chosen second overall by Chivas USA in Stage 2 of the Re-Entry draft on Wednesday, the 33-year-old is bringing his career in Kansas City to a close after eight seasons anchoring the club's back line.
“I’m going to disappear with the Wizards,” Conrad joked in a phone interview with MLSsoccer.com on Thursday. “It’s a package deal, I guess.”
All jokes aside, Conrad said he had hoped to end his career in the city he now considers home. In the end, however, it just wasn’t to be for the player who grew into a national-team regular and organization figurehead since arriving at Kansas City in 2003.
“Finishing out my career here with the Wizards-slash-Sporting was always on the top of my list,” Conrad said. “I’ve given a big chunk of my career and life to this city and to this team. To be able to say that I finished it here in front of the fans that have supported me for so long was first and foremost, and it would have been a great honor to be able to do so.”
Unfortunately for Conrad, he wasn’t given that opportunity. The veteran center back was out of contract heading into this offseason and fell into the newly adopted Re-Entry Draft, where his rights were selected by Chivas USA.
Conrad says he's currently in negotiations with the Goats, which would bring him back to Southern California, where he grew up, played college soccer and began his professional career.
But even if a return to the West Coast falls through, he certainly won’t be coming back to Kansas City.
Conrad said he tried to open discussions about his future multiple times during the season but was told to wait. Once the season ended and he hadn’t heard anything from the club regarding his contract situation, he assumed he wouldn’t be returning.
“I was never offered a contract,” he said. “I know it appeared like I wanted to test the market, but I didn’t have any other choice based on how the rules are set up. I didn’t have any dialog with Kansas City, so there wasn’t much I could do.”
Manager Peter Vermes declined to discuss specific negotiations with Conrad or fellow Re-Entry Draft pick Josh Wolff, who signed with D.C. United. Vermes said the decision to cut ties with each player was difficult, but that it was simply time for the organization to move on.
“It wasn’t easy,” Vermes said. “We are going to miss those guys in different ways. At the same time, the roster of any MLS or sports team in any industry is always a living, breathing roster. As they leave, it’s [time] for us to continue to try to bring new players in.”
For his part, Conrad said he understood that this process was part of professional sports, even if was difficult for him to watch his career in Kansas City end before he was fully ready to go.
“I feel like the people of Kansas City have really embraced me as one of their own since the first day I got here,” Conrad said. “Because of that support through all the ups and downs during these eight years, I really consider this place a home. It’s with a heavy heart that I’ll have to leave. I wish them the best of luck.”
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