Just went it felt like the rumors were slowing down, a new one pops up. On Tuesday, Sporting Kansas City were linked to Austrian International Husein Balic by reporter Kristian Dyer. Additionally, four other MLS teams are mentioned as “tracking” the player. They are the LA Galaxy, Columbus Crew, D.C. United and Toronto FC.
It’s entirely possible that there is nothing to this rumor as it’s a lot of teams to be mentioned versus it being just Sporting KC tied to the player. There were previous reports of interest from the Galaxy, but they just stole rumored SKC target Samuel Grandsir in the past few days. It’s possible they aren’t still shopping for help on the wing.
SKC on the other hand, are still likely to be in need at the forward position. They lost Gerso Fernandes in the offseason and the only additions capable of playing out wide are probably Homegrown signings Ozzie Cisneros and Grayson Barber.
Who is Husein Balic?
While Dyer lists him as a wide midfielder, that’s all about the formation. In fact, he plays all three forward spots, but primarily lines up as a left winger. The 25-year-old currently plays for LASK in the Austrian Bundesliga. Transfermarkt pegs his value at $2.2 million and shows him under contract through June of 2024. Any acquisition cost would likely make him a Designated Player, something it’s possible Sporting KC has room to do (though we won’t know for sure until closer to roster compliance day). Additionally, Balic would occupy an international spot, which Sporting have two of.
Balic is from Austria, however, he also has citizenship in Bosnia-Herzegovina. He has made a single cap for the Austrian National Team, but played five times (with one goal) for their U-21 side.
In all competitions this season, Balic has nine goals and three assists over 1,897 minutes. That would be a welcome addition to a Kansas City front line that may or may not be in need of scoring help with the loss of Erik Hurtado, Felipe Gutierrez and the aforementioned Gerso. This year could be a bit of an aberration though, as lifetime, Balic has just 25 goals and 14 assists, so it’s a noticeable uptick as he enters his prime.
In late 2020, Balic was also linked to Southampton and Brentford out of England. Southampton are currently in the Premier League, with Brentford in the Championship. Before that, he was linked to Scottish giants, Celtic. In that story in the Daily Mail, they referred to him as the “one of the fastest players in football.” With Gerso gone, some speed at left wing is a big need. His nickname is ‘The Sprinter.’
How Would he Fit with SKC?
It’s pretty obvious the team is a little thin in the attack. With Gerso and Hurtado gone, only Homegrowns have replaced them (though they showed out quite well in the first preseason game). The presumed starting LW as of today is likely Khiry Shelton. He’s less of a goal scorer than a big, bruising body who opens up space for others. Having Khiry move to the first option off the bench at left or right wing, Balic as the starting left winger and Wilson Harris coming in as Pulido’s backup, would probably make the team feel a lot more solid in the attack.