Sporting Kansas City has made several moves recently and despite returning the core of the roster, they could have a bit of new look in 2019. Rodney Wallace was signed as a free agent, Erik Hurtado was acquired for draft picks and Hungarian defender Botond Barath was signed. The move that was biggest surprise was sending Diego Rubio to the Colorado Rapids in exchange for Kelyn Rowe and $300,000 in allocation money.
The other “surprise” you could say is that this was all done before Christmas after Sporting KC just dropped out of play at the end of November. Three weeks later and most of manager Peter Vermes shopping for the season has been completed.
“A big emphasis was that the players we targeted, that we try to get them in as a quickly as possible because we are starting with Champions League on the 21st [of February],” Vermes told reporters via conference call. “We had to make sure we had our roster put together because we play the second leg following week and then we play away in our first game so we had to be ready with a full roster going in. I didn’t want to have additions coming in late, I wanted to start preseason with a full group and that was a big emphasis, during the season even as we were planning for 2019.”
With the players released or out of contract and the new signings, Sporting KC is up to 26 players on the roster. Vermes made it clear that he wanted to get players in quickly but does that mean he is done for this offseason?
“We are very close,” Vermes explained. “I’m not trying to make a prediction here but there is a good chance there might be one other addition but that will probably come a little later. No way before Christmas and probably into the new year. If it does it will probably be in mid-January or into February. Outside of that we have almost finalized our roster.”
Who takes over the 9 spot?
With Khiry Shelton apparently not returning and Rubio traded, Sporting KC would be without the two players who spent the most time at center forward. Krisztian Nemeth seems to have the inside track for the starting number 9 spot.
“We’ve added Hurtado, we have Nemeth. As we’ve seen this past year, Salloi can play in there as well and Croizet can play as a false 9 if we have to, so we have others that can play that position,” Vermes responded when asked. “I feel comfortable with those guys and confident.”
Still one more player?
Vermes has mentioned there may still be another player arriving but not until later. “It would most likely be another number 9,” Vermes elaborated. “To be clear on something, I am confident in the guys that we have and also that we have added at this time. I think you guys know how we do business and the way do business is we add people when we think it’s the right fit, the right situation and the right financial situation as well.”
Four new players, where do they fit in?
Sporting KC’s manager was asked where the new players would fit in to the team. “When we add players to this team, we add them with the idea that they are going to make an impact on our team. It is really going to be up to them whether they are a starter on a regular basis, in the eighteen or trying to make the eighteen. It’s hard for me to say from a play perspective where they all will be,” Vermes explained. He then went on to describe each player:
Wallace – “He is very versatile but the place I am interested in trying him out in is left back.”
Hurtado – “He can play all three positions up top and he has breakaway speed to get in behind a defense. There is no doubt in my mind because he has played there many times he can play the number 9, 7 or 11. We will be looking to play him as a 9.”
Barath – “Boton is being brought in to be a right-footed, right-channel central defender.”
Rowe – “He is someone I have known for a long time. I followed him in college and we were interested in him when he came out in the draft. Over the last several years we have tried at times to get him but were unsuccessful. He can play both inner midfield position and wide as a 7 or 11 but I think his best place is in the middle of the park.”
Stay tuned: There is more from the Vermes press conference in the queue.