When Gianluca Busio was transferred to Venezia FC in the Italian first division in the middle of the Major League Soccer season, there was a portion of the fanbase that simply didn’t understand. How can you sell one of your best players when you claim to be making a run at multiple trophies (Supporter’s Shield, MLS Cup)?
Well... soccer is weird. It’s not like the other major American sports that many of those same fans grew up with. In baseball, as the playoffs approach, the contenders make big trades to try to solidify their rosters while the teams out of the race hold a fire sale to try to get assets for future years. It’s also true in the NBA and the NHL. The NFL, less so. But in none of those leagues, if you have a hot young prospect, do you send them away when they are 19-years-old. It’s just different in MLS.
Right now, MLS isn’t the best soccer league in the world, unlike the other American leagues listed above, which are. MLS Commissioner Don Garber has said that MLS needs to become a selling league, and that’s exactly what is happening. Big prospects like Alphonso Davies, Brendan Aaronson and Bryan Reynolds have all been sold in recent years for large sums of money. Money that MLS teams can turn around and invest in finding more young prospects, upgrading their facilities or even buying current stars.
He confirmed that ownership has the option to just pocket the money, but that’s never been the plan and it won’t be the plan with the funds (reportedly up to $11 million with a 20 percent sell-on fee) from this sale. Vermes was very frank that ownership is leaving it up to him and he could spend it on facilities or players and he said they already have world class facilities, so it’ll be spent on players.
Those players just won’t be arriving quiet yet.
“We’ve been looking at different options for the winter window,” began Vermes. “What we didn’t want to do is all of the sudden, we see this money from [Busio] and be on this mad rush to spend it and do it in a responsible way.”
If that was the only answer to the question, it would feel incomplete. It would feel like something we’ve heard before. PV has the directive to spend, but often times he just doesn’t. But he went much further into detail.
“We definitely have ideas of what we want to do and how we want to do it,” continued Vermes. “We also have our second team where we could invest some money there in some younger players, 18-19, give them a couple years with the second team. As they cut their teeth there, then when they can make the jump to the first team, now we already have those players in our system and they’ve already kind of learned culturally, and model of play and all those things.”
Buying players for the second team? That’s new! Can USL teams spend wildly on transfer fees? Does it even matter what the USL rules are with Sporting KC II set to move to a new MLS third division? There are definitely rules against bringing them to your second team and loaning them to the MLS team, but developing them in the 4-3-3 and practicing with the first team for a year or two before moving up, could create quiet the pipeline. However, they do it, they are investing back into the team.
“The great thing is that our ownership group has said they are going to continue to reinvest that money back into what we call the Sporting Player Enterprise,” said Vermes.
Sporting Player Enterprise. That’s new terminology to hold onto. Petro pushed him to try to get a name or two.
“From our player personnel department to our scouting department to player recruitment... we have what we call a shadow team,” responded Vermes. “It’s basically in our system, you know we play the 4-3-3, we have players in each position and I’m talking about world wide. We have them for the first team, that would be players over 22, we have players that would fit in that youth DP roster spot (he was actually talking about the U-22 Initiative based on other comments in the interview).”
“And then we have second team, the same idea, all those positions since they play the same formation as the first team. We have what we call a depth chart of players all around the world that we would be interested in.”
“Some of them are very specific, in regards to you know we need this position next year. So do we want to spend the money in that position or do we want to spend the lion share of your money on a central defender or a left wing or a number 10. Do we have names? Absolutely. Have we been embarking on trying to move those things along? For sure. We have to be ahead of the window as opposed to just working in that window. That’s one of the reasons why the idea was to use those funds in the upcoming winter window.”
Hearing Vermes go into the level of detail that he told Petro is pretty interesting. Every once in a while he just decides to share a little secret. Of course we’ll never get names of players they are scouting, but there is clearly a detailed plan in place. Now it just comes down to convincing players to come to Kansas City. If only PV would share this much detail on his subbing patterns.
A Few Other Tidbits
- Throughout the interview, PV calls it the new Youth DP initiative, but it’s the U-22 initiative. It’s not technically a Designated Player, but one can spend unlimited on transfer fees. The “Young DP” is something else, as they can be older than 22 and meet that criteria.
- When asked about the next sale, he said he wanted to wait until teams come to him and there is no plan to sell certain players. It works out better financially if they wait.
- The Busio transfer was like “a full time job” there was so much demand for him.
- PV confirmed his deal runs through Dec 2023 when he was asked what’s next and he said, “we’ll see.” It’s hard to imagine him coaching anywhere else.