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Sporting KC’s Vermes: “I do not think [the roster] needs a large overhaul.”

Plus Vermes gives updates on offseason priorities, international signings and more offseason musings.

MLS: US Open Cup-FC Dallas at Sporting Kansas City Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

We’ve been hearing from Sporting Kansas City’s Peter Vermes a lot in the last couple weeks. With the season coming to an end, there is a lot of talk about what is next. Before we get to the new information, be sure to catch up on some other information PV shared and some general offseason information to setup up the cascade of upcoming roster moves.

Vermes: “I do not think [the roster] needs a large overhaul.”

The first bit of news came in the final media availability of the season from a question asked by the KC Star’s Daniel Sperry. He asked if he thinks the team needs a large overhaul to the roster.

“No I do not,” started Vermes. “I do not think [the roster] needs a large overhaul. Obviously with players returning, I think it’s inevitable that everybody’s going to make changes every year. A lot of it has to do with the salary cap. Obviously there will be some changes.”

It’s hard to disagree. In The Blue Testament’s own breakdown of roster moves, no one was calling for dramatic change. There are areas of opportunity, which Vermes would go on to acknowledge.

Offseason Priorities and Upcoming Moves

He was asked what his priorities are but didn’t want to get specific.

“I won’t get specific on positions,” said Vermes. “I will say there are some places we need to bolster the roster for sure.”

That’s not surprising to hear from a team that didn’t make the playoffs, no matter how good they finished the year. Obviously there were problems in the defense, but up to this point in the offseason he’s only mentioned signing a third striker.

When Vermes was pressed more specifically on who he will bring back of the 11 players he has to make decision on, he didn’t take the bait.

“We have time,” began Vermes. “We don’t have to do anything until November. It’s not like I’m going to talk about any of those things right now. We’re still contemplating a lot of different things. Some of it could be salary cap related. When we get there we’ll make announcements on players... the roster is always going to have pressure on it because of the salary cap... It’s something you always have to constantly manage. It’s something we’ve always done really well. It’s one of the reasons we’re able to get William [Agada] and Erik [Thommy] in the middle of the season. There’s a lot of clubs that could not have made those two moves based on the fact that we’ve always acted in a way to prepare for a rainy day. It wound up being a hurricane storm.”

Obviously we all know moves are coming. His persistence in talking about the cap has to bring into question the future of guys like Andreu Fontas and Nicolas Isimat-Mirin, who both make over $1 million per season. The team can actually clear up over $4 million in salary if it so chooses and the salary budget is so at the top of PV’s mind, he mentioned it again, saying:

“Some of those decisions will be based on salary cap. Some of those will be based on some other players we might be bringing in and how those different players fit together.”

No matter who is brought in though, there is pressure on the guys already here to be ready for the season.

“But I also will say that an important aspect going into next season is this offseason,” started Vermes. “I say the offseason for the returning players because this is a little unprecedented that we’re all going to be off, especially with the World Cup. It’s going to be incredibly important that our players pay attention to the offseason training program and come back as fit as they’ve ever been as a professional. Their physical foundation is going to be incredibly important to a successful preseason, which leads to a successful regular season.”

International Signings

While the team have all eight of their international roster spots occupied, they can clear up to three somewhat effortlessly. Between answers given in the press conference and additional answers given to the KC Star’s Blair Kerkhoff, Vermes went deeper on the subject.

“There’s all these different mechanisms (Vermes mentioned free agency, the waiver draft, re-entry draft and the SuperDraft) on top of all the international scouting that we’re doing,” said Vermes. “So you have all these pieces that hopefully we can make some headway without having to open up the bank and spend every dollar that we have.”

Peter really put value on being smart with the budget to leave room for maneuverability in the middle of the season. Also, by him stating he doesn’t have to spend every dollar, it makes one wonder if he’s planning to add a third Designated Player (or a fourth).

In terms of solidifying the international moves, when asked by former TBT staffer Aly Trost-Martin about the long P1 Visa process, that the team must move quickly.

“[We’ve] just got to try and do those [international] deals as soon as possible so we have as much time on our side,” said Vermes. “It always winds up being time. It’s not a lack of filing documentation or anything, it just winds up being time on the government side.”

Pulido and Kinda’s Injuries

In addition to talking signings and roster moves, Peter gave some new insight on when he knew about Alan Pulido’s more severe injury. He said Pulido came to him two weeks after the season and said something is really wrong and that’s when he saw another doctor. From there he knew Alan had to get a major surgery and he wouldn’t be available. That left the team in a bit of a bind, as we saw when they eventually signed Nikola Vujnovic on loan.

“We weren’t ready from a scouting perspective to have a replacement for him,” began Vermes. “I’m here to tell you we really wouldn’t be prepared, because even if we had a DP ready to go, the league would not, based on the rules, let us replace him with another DP.”

When asked if Pulido and Kinda will be available at the start of preseason, Vermes shed new light on their injuries.

“There’s a big difference between Alan and Gadi,” said Vermes. “Where the difference is that, they had the same type of procedure. Gadi’s injury was non-weight bearing and Alan’s was weight bearing. And that in itself has a little more severity to it if you will on the return. I wish I could tell you [if they’ll be ready].”

That’s interesting because Pulido definitely seems further along based on seeing Pulido being very active late in the season causing speculation he may return before the year ended. If Kinda’s recovery should be quicker, maybe they will both be ready when preseason starts. [Update 10/16/22: I think I’ve misinterpreted this quote and non-weight bearing is worse. Thanks to Andy in the comments.]

Vermes continued, “Now I’m putting on my General Manager hat. I’m not going to wait this time around. I’m going to make sure that we are prepared with other players to augment the roster to the best of our abilities with making the other additions that we want to and having the finances to be able to do that.”