Sporting Kansas City head coach and sporting director, Peter Vermes, sat down with the media on Tuesday afternoon to answer questions and provide an update on preseason in Phoenix, Arizona. No word on if Sporting KC actually crushed the USMNT or not in their closed door scrimmage (we’ll never get that out of PV), but he did give a few updates on the team.
The Striker Search is On
For those that thought the roster build was done and were nervous, don’t get carried away (I may have been in this camp personally). Vermes has indicated they still know they have at least one move to make and that’s at center forward. When asked directly about the position by the KC Star’s Daniel Sperry, he responded, “we’re trying to find another person.” Vermes didn’t comment specifically on if they are looking for a starter for or a backup for Khiry Shelton. He continued, “we need to find another player that will help us at that position, just from a bodies perspective.”
When pressed further on the subject, Vermes said the “easiest solution” is to look domestically because you don’t have to deal with the issues of getting players into the country.
“It also has to be a person that can fit, have an impact and then financially it works,” stated Vermes. “As of right now, that piece of the puzzle doesn’t necessarily exist. We’ve worked on different things but we haven’t gotten a solution there yet.”
Vermes was also quick to point out that, “when you take other guys out of other positions, that makes you thin there.” That would seem to indicate a move like Gadi Kinda going to CF isn’t out of the question, but it just creates other issues. And let’s not forget, he’s going to miss the start of the season too.
Marinos Tzionis Positional Fit
If you were hoping that new Cypriot signing Marinos Tzionis is the ‘striker you are looking for’ (presume I said that in Obi-Wan Kenobi’s voice), it sounds like we’ll need to look elsewhere. Some folks (maybe myself included) seemed to hope Tzionis could at least play the false 9, but that’s not where PV listed him.
“He can play on either wing or any of the two attacking midfield spots. He’s a player with a lot of games under his belt for a young age. I see him fitting into those areas of the field.”
As Peter continued to answer the question about positional fit, he talked about the trouble of getting guys into the country and that none of the new international players have arrived.
Player Availability in Preseason
In addition to the international guys not being able to get their P1 Visas and get into the country yet, there are of course injuries. “We’re missing a lot of guys,” Vermes said. He expanded on that as well.
“You’ve got guys out for different reasons,” continued Vermes. “So it’s not as consistent I would say with people on an every day basis. There is a positive to that. Different guys are getting reps that they don’t normally get. And then not having all the guys that we’ve signed not here yet and in the team. They’re missing part of that build up. We’re going to have to do our best to accelerate them for whenever they get here. And it’s going to be a process. I have a big feeling it’s going to run into the beginning of the season... it’s going to depend on when those players get here.”
I personally missed the presser so I didn’t get a chance to follow-up and see who, specifically, is missing. Let’s hope it’s nothing. Be sure to keep your watchful eyes on social media and check out who is out there winning the scrimmages, since we know they are playing at least.
Ben Sweat Update
My colleague Thad Bell asked about new signing Ben Sweat and got a little bit out of Peter, since new signing Logan Ndenbe hasn’t been able to join the team yet. “Ben [Sweat]’s progressing really well,” said Vermes. “We are also trying to be smart with him because this is the most he’s done in a year because of when he hurt his knee.”
It’s a shame the international players aren’t here yet because it’d be a chance to hop onto the field with the first team if Sweat isn’t taking all the reps. Presumably one of the SuperDraft picks or an SKC Academy kid is getting those touches, so hopefully they are taking advantage.
The Blue Testament will continue to bring you updates from preseason, press conferences and any other information we can get our hands on. The next preseason game is this Saturday against the Colorado Rapids at 5:00 PM CST. This game is going to be attended by fans in Tucson, Arizona. The game will also be streamed live, according to a release from the team today.