Tuesday night, Sporting Kansas City hosted a Fan Forum at No Other Pub with Sporting KC President & CEO Jake Reid and SKC players Matt Besler, Daniel Salloi, and newcomer Johnny Russell in attendance. Fans had the opportunity to ask the club president and their favorite player(s) questions ranging in a variation of topics. Although Reid was hit with more serious topics like signings, how Sporting KC is competing with new expansion teams, the World Cup bid, international friendlies, season ticket member issues, and open tryouts.
Judging by Reid’s answers, the club is willing to spend big for a player. Manager Peter Vermes has stated in past media conferences he looks for quality over quantity and doesn't feel its necessary to offer large amounts if a player does not want to be in Kansas City. However, during last night’s event Reid said:
“I think in the summer transfer window, we’re always looking. So to probably get ahead of a question that will be asked here shortly, for us, we’re always evaluating. Brian Bliss, our head of player personnel, has been over to Europe a number of times this year already as we kind of look for what that next piece may be.”
“It’s about the right fit. Do you want to be here? That is a real question we ask, do you want to be in Kansas City, not if we pay you more will you come. The answer is always yes but do you actually want to be part of what we are trying to build here? Ultimately if the answer is yes and we think they are a great fit and it’s a ten-million-dollar guy, we will spend it. “
Unfortunately, we’re not going to watch Besler go up against Cristiano Ronaldo again anytime soon. When asked about the possibility of another international friendly, Reid said:
“Historically, we’ve gotten not great feedback on the international games. I think part of its just timing of who comes over, who they play and there’s a tendency of they don’t play all their guys the whole game.”
The Q&A continued as Besler, Salloi, and Russell took the floor together to answer questions both as a group and individually. Below is a snippet of the forum:
What are you most excited about when it comes this year’s team?
Besler: I think our ability to score goals. The last couple of years I think we’ve had solid teams. We’ve been good in certain areas but we had trouble scoring goals and ultimately that’s where we’ve come up short... This year we added some people but also some guys have been here. We’ve had more production and so far its been a lot of fun to be a part of this team.
Salloi: “I mean we signed Johnny Russell. The new guys are awesome and I think we have a good team. I’m just happy we can win games and can’t wait to get to the end of the season and show fans we can win games in the playoffs.“
Russell: “It’s my first season...The way we’ve been attacking teams for me that’s been the most positive aspect for me coming here as well.“
What is your favorite and least favorite thing about KC?
Russell: “Least favorite is being so far from my family. That’s probably been the hardest. I’m used to being away from them but I think the time difference is [the reason] I don’t speak to them as much as well. The best is this has been something new for me. I feel like I was stuck in a little bit of a rut in England. I feel like since I’ve come here this has been the most positive thing.”
Salloi: “The worse one, I have to agree with Johnny is the time difference and how far I am from my family. I don’t have anybody. The best thing is probably the people because people in Kansas City are so nice and this really feels like a second home.”
Are there any initiation rituals for new players?
Besler: “The very first thing a new player does is they go through the tunnel. It’s out on the training field and everybody that is currently on the team lines up in two rows and makes a path for the new player to run through. They don’t just run through. We actually hit them as hard as we can on the back.“
Matt went on to explain the tradition of new players performing in front of the team during the preseason. Russell sang “U Remind Me“ by Usher.
Thoughts on Pinnacle
Russell: “I’ve been lucky. I’ve been in some great facilities before but this one tops all of them. [There are] things in there I don’t know how to use them but I think, from recovery aspect after games, the equipment there to help recover, I think, has helped.“
Salloi: “I’ve never complained about Swope because it was great for us but now its just unbelievable... This is shocking. When I take pictures, I know I’m not allowed to [but] when I send it to my friends they [start] freaking out.”
The full forum can be viewed on Sporting KC’s Facebook page.