The trade of Ike Opara by Sporting Kansas City for at least $900K in Targeted Allocation Money with a potential for that total to reach $1 million has once again brought praise to Sporting’s manager Peter Vermes. The talk making the rounds after the deal was announced was that Vermes had once again gotten the better of another MLS team in a trade. And while it may take a little while to see if Vermes and KC will get the better of Minnesota United here, over the past few years Vermes has earned a reputation of being able to get great deals from teams in trades.
With that in mind I took a look at some of Vermes’ best trades since he took over as the team’s Technical Director in November of 2006. One thing to remember with all these trades is that they may not have been a disaster for the team that KC was trading with. Some of the moves did work out for both teams, but that doesn’t mean that KC didn’t get the better end of the deal in the trade. The trades are in chronological order, but at the bottom you can vote on which trade you thought was Vermes’ best business.
Nick Garcia for #1 pick (Chance Myers)
In a move that has become a regular occurrence in Peter Vermes’ tenure in charge of the club; he traded a veteran starter away in the offseason. Back just days before the 2008 MLS SuperDraft, Vermes, then only in the technical director role with Curt Onalfo as head coach, he traded veteran center back and former first round pick, Nick Garcia to the expansion San Jose Earthquakes in exchange for the number 1 pick in the draft.
KC ended up selecting Chance Myers with the pick, and while it wasn’t an immediate success for Kansas City, it eventually came good as Myers was a fixture at right back for two Open Cup runs and the 2013 MLS Cup run for Sporting. Myers would end up playing 147 times for Kansas City over his nine seasons with the club. Garcia meanwhile, made just 36 league appearances over a season and a half with San Jose before being traded to Toronto FC in 2009.
Abe Thompson and allocation money for Kei Kamara
The Wizards had acquired Thompson a year earlier from FC Dallas in exchange for allocation money as KC tried to find some more goals. Thompson played 16 times for KC in league play over the next calendar year, not scoring a single goal. He did score one goal in a 2009 US Open Cup game over the Minnesota Thunder.
In September of 2009 though, KC shipped Thompson and some allocation money to the Houston Dynamo for Kei Kamara. KC was Kamara’s fourth team in four seasons in the league and had developed a bit of a reputation as trouble in the locker room. Kamara though flourished in Kansas City, playing in 113 games (the most of any of his stops in MLS) and scored 38 goals (also the most of any of his stops in his career). Kamara earned himself a loan to then EPL side Norwich City and eventually a permanent transfer to Middlesbrough before returning to MLS in 2015.
Thompson meanwhile made just a single appearance for the Dynamo in 2009, scoring his first league goal since he was in Dallas in that game. He was waived at the end of the season by the Dynamo.
Davy Arnaud for Seth Sinovic and allocation money
Another trade where Vermes took advantage of an MLS expansion side. Vermes had left the team’s starting left back, Seth Sinovic available in the 2011 expansion draft and he was selected by the Montreal Impact. Sinovic had made mention in articles at the time that he didn’t want to move and was considering retirement. Montreal ended up sending Sinovic back to Kansas City along with allocation money for the club’s captain at the time, Davy Arnaud.
Sinovic is still with the team over seven years later. Since this trade, Sinovic has played 168 league games for Kansas City and scored one of the more important goals in the club’s history in their 3-2 win over against his former club, the New England Revolution in the playoffs in 2013.
Arnaud was 31 when the trade happened and was coming off his least productive season since his rookie year in 2002 when he only played three games. That said he was a solid contributor for the Impact over two seasons. He was the club’s first captain in MLS and appeared 57 times and scored five goals over his two seasons before being traded to DC United after the 2013 season.
First round 2012 Supplemental draft pick for Paulo Nagamura
The Swope Park Rangers’ current head coach came to Kansas City after the 2011 season had finished having played just 26 games over the past two years for Chivas USA. Nagamura arrived in Kansas City and while he didn’t have an immediate impact, he came on as the 2012 season progressed and inserted himself into the midfield as Graham Zusi slid from the midfield out to a wide position in the 4-3-3.
His role became even more important in 2013 after Roger Espinoza left the club to join Wigan; Nagamura became the main bite in Kansas City’s midfield in their run to MLS Cup 2013. He was a workhorse in the middle for KC and even put the team on his back and seemed to will the team on in games; his performance against the Vancouver Whitecaps in 2015 will be well remembered by many people. He’ll also be well remembered for his penalty kick performances in big moments in the 2012 US Open Cup final, 2013 MLS Cup final, and 2015 US Open Cup final.
A week before Nagamura was traded to Kansas City, Sporting sent midfielder, Ryan Smith, to Chivas USA for a first round and a third round Supplemental Draft pick. The picks were in the third and fifth round of the draft overall after the two rounds of the SuperDraft. In the trade for Nagamura, Sporting sent Chivas’ first round pick, the 43rd overall pick in the two drafts, back to Chivas in the Nagamura trade.
Chivas used the pick on RJ Allen who never signed with the club, instead signing to play in Denmark. Another way to look at it is that KC traded Smith for Nagamura and a draft pick (that KC used to select Stefan Antonijevic). From that aspect, Smith had only played six times for KC in 2011 before leaving the club in June for personal reasons. He’d go on to play 21 times for Chivas in 2012 before returning to Europe.
International roster spot for the 2012 season for Bobby Convey
This isn’t the greatest deal on this list that Vermes has made, but was still some good business. Convey had played 21 games the season before the San Jose Earthquakes and appeared in 16 games in 2012 for Kansas City. Convey scored one goal for Kansas City in 2012 before eventually losing his spot on the wing as Nagamura came on and Zusi pushed out to the wing.
For Kansas City, the international slot that they gave up wasn’t a big deal for the club, they weren’t using it with just five internationals on the roster at that point (Jimmy Nielsen, Julio Cesar, Aurelien Collin, Peterson Joseph, and Oriol Rosell). The club added Neven Markovic in 2012, but three of the players that were internationals at the start of the season (Nielsen, Cesar, and Collin) had received their green cards and weren’t internationals by the end of the season. So while San Jose went on to win the Supporters’ Shield that year, this was another deal that really worked out for both sides.
First round 2014 Superdraft pick, second round 2015 Superdraft pick, and allocation money for Benny Feilhaber
By the end of 2012 it seemed obvious that Benny Feilhaber was not having a great time in New England with the Revolution. While he’d played in 29 games in 2012, he’d only contributed to three goals (one goal, two assists) and it seemed like many of the consistency issues that plagued him through his club career were back.
KC acquired Feilhaber from the Revolution for two draft picks and some allocation money. And in return, KC got the best years of Feilhaber’s career; he played in 150 of 170 available league games for KC. He scored 29 goals and added 41 assists in that stretch, helping KC to two Open Cups and the 2013 MLS Cup. He was regularly regarded as someone who should have gotten more of a look at the national team level under Jurgen Klinsmann, especially after a 2015 season where he finished in the top three in MVP voting having scored 10 goals and added 15 assists for Sporting.
The Revolution meanwhile got the 19th and final pick of the first round in 2014 for Feilhaber. The Revolution packaged that pick with their 12th pick to move up one spot to 11 to take Patrick Mullins. Mullins played just one season in New England, scoring four goals in 21 games before being selected by New York City FC in the expansion draft. The 2015 second round pick was the 33rd overall pick that the Revolution also traded, this time to Seattle for Sean Okoli. Okoli played just five times for the Revolution, playing just 46 minutes in those five games.
Second round MLS SuperDraft pick in 2013 for Ike Opara
This deal is in the light a little bit more now because of the trade that brought about this post. Sporting acquired the former first round pick Ike Opara from the San Jose Earthquakes for a second round pick. Opara came to Kansas City with a history of injury issues that plagued his career with San Jose; he made just 35 appearances over three seasons.
In 2013 Opara was a key contributor for Kansas City as their third center back behind Aurelien Collin and Matt Besler. He played a career high 18 times and almost 1,400 minutes. Unfortunately for Opara the 2014 and 2015 seasons ended prematurely with more injury issues that made him question continuing his career. From 2016 on though he has played in 86 of Kansas City’s 102 league games, and 61 of the 68 over the past two years. In 2017 he was named MLS Defender of the Year, the fourth Kansas City player to win the award.
San Jose got the 33rd overall pick in the 2013 draft for Opara. The Earthquakes selected Dan Delgado with that pick. Delgado didn’t play for the Quakes, in fact he didn’t sign with the club. He eventually played a couple seasons with the Oklahoma City Energy in the USL.
Dom Dwyer for up to $1.6 million in allocation money
The largest intra-MLS trade in the league’s history up to this point; Sporting traded Dom Dwyer to Orlando City for $900,000 in allocation money with another $700,000 should Dwyer reach certain milestones with Orlando. At the time Vermes said that all the milestones were easily attainable, and by the end of the season it was believed that Dwyer had hit all the milestones required for Sporting to get all $1.6 million from Orlando in the deal.
The money has helped Sporting to acquire players who became important parts of the club in 2018, specifically Johnny Russell and Felipe Gutierrez. Without the deal the chances of acquiring one or both of the players is put into some question.
Dwyer hasn’t necessarily done poorly for Orlando City since the trade, scoring 17 goals in 38 games for the Lions. Orlando City though has really struggled on the field, not just since Dwyer’s arrival either. Since the trade, Orlando has been an abysmal 10-29-8 in league play, which certainly pushes any view on the trade in KC’s direction.
Feilhaber for $400K in allocation money
The acquisition of Feilhaber was some really good work by Vermes; his departure was pretty good itself. Sporting acquired $400K in allocation money from expansion side Los Angeles FC. Feilhaber was about to turn 34 when the club made the trade, had signed Yohan Croizet as a midfielder at the time and had the pieces in place to begin to phase out Feilhaber. The later addition of Felipe Gutierrez helped to reinforce that the trade was a good move for Kansas City as they had their most productive offensive season in club history after trading the playmaker.
For his part, Feilhaber had a successful season in Los Angeles playing in all 34 games scoring three goals and adding six assists while playing deeper under Bob Bradley than he did for KC as LAFC also had Lee Nguyen in their midfield. Although only having Feilhaber for the one season before he joined Colorado this offseason is a blow considering how much they spent to acquire him.
$140K in TAM for $100K in GAM
This is a bit of a complicated one, but is also a good illustration of the art of the deal for Vermes. First, in MLS, GAM (General Allocation Money) is generally viewed as more valuable than TAM (Targeted Allocation Money) because it can be used multiple different ways, while TAM can only be used on paying down Designated Players or signing or re-signing TAM level players (approx. 500K to 1.5 million).
So in this trade with D.C. United, KC traded $140K in TAM to D.C. United for $100K in GAM, basically a conversion of $1.4 dollars of TAM for every dollar of GAM. Earlier in the same offseason, DC had sent $337,500 in TAM to Toronto FC for $250K in GAM. In that deal every dollar of GAM was worth $1.5 dollars of TAM. In this case Vermes was able to get more GAM for less TAM than DC did in the earlier trade.
With all those deals, which was the best deal that Trader Pete has made for Kansas City? Vote in the poll below (note: the poll is only viewable outside of Google AMP and Apple News).
Which trade was Vermes’ best business
This poll is closed
Garcia for the #1 pick
Thompson & allocation money for Kamara
Arnaud for Sinovic & allocation money
1st round Supplemental pick for Nagamura
Int roster spot in 2012 for Convey
1st round 2014 Superdraft pick, 2nd round 2015 & allocation money for Feilhaber
2nd round 2013 Superdraft pick for Opara
Dwyer for up to $1.6 million in allocation money
Feilhaber for $400K in allocation money
$140K in TAM for $100K in GAM