After Saturday’s 0-0 draw against Real Salt Lake, we caught up with Peter Vermes to get his insights on the game, new players, injuries and much more. The full video interview is at the bottom of the story, but here are a few highlights for you Sporting Kansas City fans.
Injuries for Gutierrez, Melia, Hurtado and Gerso
For the third straight game Sporting KC were missing Tim Melia and Felipe Gutierrez. For the second straight game they were without Gerso Fernandes and Erik Hurtado. Gutierrez and Melia are no doubt, day one starters. The argument could be made that Gerso is as well. The Blue Testament asked Head Coach and Sporting Director, Peter Vermes, about their absences.
“Just little knocks and we don’t want them to turn into something big,” said Vermes. “We’ve just given those guys a little time to get better. Nothing crazy on anybody just making sure it doesn’t turn into something big.”
Here is to hoping that is true. When 2019 was so marred by injuries, the hope has to be the team is healthier in 2020. It got so bad last year they only had six healthy players and had to cancel practice at one point. That’s six healthy players on a 30 man roster. Yikes!
Eric Dick’s Loan to Phoenix Rising
Back on February 4th, Sporting KC and Phoenix Rising FC (USL Championship) announced that goalkeeper Eric Dick would join PRFC on loan for the 2020 season. That leaves SKC with just two GKs (one of which has a minor “knock”) as the season approaches. We asked why loan out Dick versus keeping him in Kansas City and loaning him to SKC II.
“Because we feel we have a very good goalkeeping crew,” started Vermes. “We have a lot of other guys in there as well. It’s easier to take a guy like that, that’s a little bit older [and] send them out [to] be with a team.”
Vermes goes on to say he can keep “some of the younger guys... at home.” But it allows them “to use Sporting II as an opportunity for other guys to keep getting games. We’ve got quite a few guys right now that are really good in that area of the field.”
Those younger guys are John Pulskamp (18) and Brooks Thompson (17), who are both signed to Sporting KC II. Pulskamp featured extensively for Swope Park in 2019 but Thompson was limited to a single game due to a back injury. It would seem those two will battle it out to see who moves to the first team next. After all, new SKC backup Richard Sanchez just has a single year left on his contract.
Cameron Duke’s Best Spot
So far in preseason, Homegrown signing Cameron Duke has been a bit of a utility player. He has lined up at right back, central midfield and left wing. We asked Vermes what his best position is.
“I think his best place is probably in the middle of the park,” said Vermes. “But right now we have some other guys that we are looking at in those areas of the field. He has the ability to be a jack-of-all-trades at the moment and he can do it. It works well for him and he gets to play.”
On Saturday it was Busio and Jake Davis (SKC Academy) getting the midfield starts. Earlier in the preseason Tyler Freeman lined up there (he was at center forward this weekend). Continuing to get Duke on the field is important. It’ll be interesting to see where Duke lines up for Sporting KC II, where he will inevitably spend significant time this year.
The one issue of playing him everywhere is much like the problem with Yohan Croizet. If you are the jack of all trades, then you are the master of none.
Gadi Kinda, Alan Pulido and Gianluca Busio
Joseph Lowery of The Athletic and the MLS Assist Podcast also was there alongside The Blue Testament and he asked several questions about Kinda and Pulido fitting into the team tactically. Vermes responded with things you’ve probably already heard this offseason, but if you’ve checked out, now is the time to catch up on their system fits in the video below.
Here is the full interview.