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Peter Vermes Provides Updates on Contract Talks with Hurtado, Gutierrez and Gerso

Let’s just say, the roster turnover is looming large.

SOCCER: NOV 22 MLS Cup Playoffs Western Conference Round One - San Jose at Sporting KC
Hurtado pointing to where he’s going, which doesn’t look to be Kansas City.
Photo by Nick Tre. Smith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

On the heels of announcing three new Homegrown signings, Sporting KC Head Coach and Sporting Director Peter Vermes, sat down for a virtual press conference with members of the media. The conversation quickly turned away from new signings goalkeeper Brooks Thompson, forward Osvaldo “Ozzie” Cisneros and midfielder Grayson Barber and turned to which players were coming back and even a little SuperDraft talk.

What is Erik Hurtado’s Status?

Last we heard on Hurtado he was out of contract and the team was currently negotiating with him. That appears to have changed. When asked about the current status of negotiations, Peter responded, “Erik [Hurtado], I don’t know if he’s signed with someone, I have no idea.”

After speaking of Hurtado, Gutierrez and Gerso, he made it clear offers aren’t available into perpetuity. It sounds like Hurtado turned down their offer and they’ve moved on. They’ve signed two Homegrown forwards in Wilson Harris and the aforementioned Cisneros, so maybe that’s a sign Hurtado isn’t coming back. He definitely spoke difference of Hurtado and Gutierrez.

How About Felipe Gutierrez?

Things sounded slightly more optimistic when it came to Guti. “In regards to Gutierrez, we put an offer on the table,” Vermes said. “Our expectation is we’re going to hear sooner rather than later if he’s a yes or a no.” It seems pretty clear that offer is still out there and Sporting would want him back and are hopeful of hearing something soon. You’ll recall that he had a 2021 option on his contract but Sporting declined it because of concerns over his ability to recover from his injury that caused him to miss all of 2020.

For his part, Gutierrez wants to stay in Kansas City, but he’s not opposed to a move elsewhere, like his native Chile. I imagine there is more to come on Gutierrez in the near future.

Gerso Fernandes’ Return Depends on His Actions

When we last spoke with Peter, he indicated, “with the rules of the CBA we had the ability to provide what is called a bona fide offer. We did that and it wasn’t something he accepted. We wanted to bring Gerso back but he didn’t accept that so at this point there is no negotiation because he declined our offer.”

In Wednesday’s press conference, the door appears to be starting to shut. “Gerso didn’t accept our offer,” Vermes said. “He’s not on our roster, so what happens there? I can’t answer that. It’s not like we’re in touch with him every day. He declined the offer we provided. If they wanted to do something, they’d have to reach out to us. The ball is in their court.”

It will be intriguing to see if SKC find a Gerso replacement (it appears they tried to get one from AS Monaco) before Gerso determines if there are no better offers and returns to Kansas City.

What’s Next in Roster Moves?

From there, it sounded like PV was a bit frustrated with the attempts to sign outside players. “We still are looking to add players to our roster,” Vermes said. “... As much as we’d like to say we have this incredible plan, which we normally feel like we do, now it’s about adapting and adjusting to the ever-changing environment.” COVID and the possible delayed MLS start aren’t doing any MLS teams any favors.

He wasn’t specifically asked, and he’s made it pretty clear he won’t respond to rumors, but Sporting were reportedly trying to acquire center back Stian Gregersen and winger Samuel Grandsir but both players turned down moves to the states. Those were just rumors. Lots of rumors don’t come true. Then again, sometimes they do.

I read today on Twitter that a lot of MLS teams are swinging for the fences and trying to sign players above what they may normally target. Maybe Gregersen and Grandsir fall into that category. Just because the moves haven’t worked out up to this point, doesn’t mean those specific players won’t reconsider as the MLS season approaches or players that more traditionally come to MLS won’t become available.

You never know what players will find themselves out of favor, out of contract or having a chat with someone in America about coming to the land of opportunity. At this point, the youth movement is strong and Sporting have filled about 26 roster spots (they can free one up with a year-long loan to USL’s SKC II).

With just a few spots open, it would seem any more additions will need to be of the larger variety. Any player picked in Thursday’s SuperDraft surely is just hoping for a chance to make SKC II. Sporting don’t pick until the 50th spot (and twice after that). Their first round pick was traded as a part of the deal that brought Hurtado to KC from the Vancouver Whitecaps. He’s (probably) gone, but I’d still make that trade personally. One look at recent SKC draft history shows, they aren’t finding consistent performers there.