Updated 7/29/19: The Swope Park Rangers made the signing official.
According to a Portuguese tabloid Abola, Sporting Kansas City’s USL Championship club, the Swope Park Rangers, are said to be signing winger Ze Pedro. The story is light on details (it’s just 77 words) and it’s unclear how good of a source they are.
Several other sources picked up the story as well, including Renaissance, who had an interview with Pedro. They describe his characteristics as “extreme[ly] fast, explosive, easy dribble [and] dueling” (per Google Translate).
Renaissance reports that his deal is for a season and a half which would carry through the end of the 2020 USL Championship schedule. In the interview Pedro said his goal is to “take the step to the MLS, as soon as possible.” The story goes on to mention that Pedro has talked to SPR head coach Paulo Nagamura and that they discussed Gerso Fernandes who is another player who transitioned from Portugal to KC.
“Soccer is growing in the United States and I think it’s a great opportunity,” Pedro said. “There were proposals from Portugal, but it was a little more of the same and I had to take a chance. My manager has been talking about the United States for some time [about this] possibility.”
Pedro is reportedly waiting for his visa so he can travel to the United States.
Ze Pedro’s Past
Pedro has been a member of one of the largest team’s in Portugal. He came up in the FC Porto academy since he was 12-years-old and now he’s 22. He never made the jump from the academy to the first team or even the B-team. He appeared to previously been officially under contract with the b-team though he never made an appearance. Instead he’s had a few loan stints out to FC Felgueiras 1932, CD Feirense and most recently SC Covilhã. The latter two clubs are in the Portuguese second division and FC Felgueiras 1932 are in the third division.
Throughout his career Pedro has primarily lined up on the left wing and he’s left-footed. As a professional Pedro has gotten very limited minutes and therefore very limited stats. He has just a single professional goal and a single assist according to Transfermarkt.
Fit with Swope Park Rangers
The Rangers have been desperate for any sort of offense in 2019. It sure seems they could use help all across the forward line. It’ll be interesting to see how involved Pedro can get with the team. Another player that seemed like he would fill a need is striker William Opoku Mensah, though he has yet to get on the field with SPR.
The current wingers on the roster include Jerome Ngom Mbekeli, Will Little, Killian Colombie and Sean Karani. Of those, Mbekeli has two goals and no one else has scored. Colombie has three assist and Mbekeli has two with no contributions from the others. Sporting KC rookie Tyler Freeman also plays on the wing but has contributed limited minutes and no goals or assists. Their final winger, Camilo Benitez is just 19 but has missed the entire season with a hip injury.
It’s clear there is room for Pedro right now and with heavy roster turnover year-over-year his 18 month contract should give him time to find the field. SPR have been so desperate for wing help they have even played defensive midfielder Ayyoub Allach on the wing as well.
The Blue Testament reached out to the team for comment on this rumored signing and this story will be updated when a reply is received.
Swope Park is in talks with Ze Pedro and it sounds like it might be close.