CJ Sapong burst onto the scene in 2011 as a rookie, scoring the first goal for Sporting Kansas City under the rebrand in 2011 and winning Rookie of the Year that same year. After 2012, in which he had another solid campaign, Sporting Kansas City brought in Claudio Bieler as their new designated player at center forward. This pushed Sapong out to the wing full time instead of giving him some reps at center forward, which had been his true position. Claudio Bieler was replaced by Dom Dwyer and Sapong was simply locked out of the center forward role. He hasn’t been as productive on the wing because he hasn’t exactly evolved to where Vermes wanted him to be as a speedy yet physical winger that can compliment the center forward.
Whether it was competition from Omar Bravo, Teal Bunbury, Claudio Bieler or Dom Dwyer, Sapong never really got to be the main striker because Vermes saw some potential for him as a winger opposite Graham Zusi or Kei Kamara, depending on the season. Sapong just wasn’t able to fully work out as a winger and he did not have the chance to really move up at center forward since it was so crowded. Moving to Philadelphia might end up being a very good thing for his career since he’ll have the chance to really be at home with his positioning.
As to what Philadelphia Union fans can expect from him, he brings some speed and physicality and is an aerial threat in the box. He isn’t the most clinical finisher but when given the chance will put a few away. I think he’ll end up doing really well with the Union, especially with Sebastien Le Toux behind him. It’ll be kind of like Teal Bunbury with the New England Revolution this year after he was crowded out of the forward depth chart at Sporting KC. A new atmosphere and a new chance at playing his normal position should do him well.
Ben Gartland is a writer and editor for The Blue Testament - SB Nation's Sporting Kansas City blog.