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Vermes: Sporting KC Working on a Center Back Signing in the Next Week

Sporting Kansas City’s head coach drops by The Program and gives an update on the team’s biggest area of need. Plus, an update on Pulido’s availability against Portland.

MLS: Sporting Kansas City at FC Dallas Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Sporting Kansas City’s season is set to start on Saturday Monday when they hit the road to face the Portland Timbers. Ahead of that meeting, Sporting KC manager and sporting director Peter Vermes stopped by The Program to talk to Soren Petro and one of the big topics they discussed was adding a center back, the only remaining huge hole on the SKC roster.

Petro: “Have you filled all the holes you wanted to fill or is it something you’ve still got your eye on something maybe in season as well?”

Vermes: “We’re still looking for one more central defender. We’ve got guys out around the world right now. We’re working on a couple players we’ve targeted. We would like to add one (pauses) we need to add a central defender. That’s an area of the field. Everything else I think is pretty darn good.”

Petro: “You just pointed it out, those are not things that happens overnight. Do you have a guy or guys targeted? Is anything in the works to get that done later on in the year?

Vermes: “Somebody from our staff right now is in a country actually working on a deal with a club and a player. [I’m] hoping that can get completed it in the next so many days. You and I have talked about this a lot. It’s a very difficult proposition when you are doing these deals, especially internationally, because it’s not just us who is usually interested it’s a lot of different teams all over the world. So, you are in competition with that. I’m always optimistic. I think that our club speaks for itself. The league is growing leaps and bounds all the time and I think there are a lot of players that now want to come here. I’m hoping that there is a possibility that we can get something done in the next so many days to a week.

(Emphasis mine)

The references to scouting in another country could be the reports that Brian Bliss was in Costa Rica scouting Alajuelense CB Alexis Gamboa. Of course, he could be somewhere else by now, that was a week ago.

The CB position has been hit hard with the loss of Kortne Ford for the entire season due to injury and thus far only younger, more inexperienced players have joined the team in second round pick Chris Rindov and USL Championship veteran Robert Castellanos. Even the presumed starters, Andreu Fontas and Robert Voloder, have little experience playing together and Voloder is just 21 years old.

If they can address that need, I for one would feel much better about this season.

Pulido Injury Update

Soren also asked Vermes about Alan Pulido’s progress and Vermes confirmed the injury report we shared, that he had been upgraded to questionable. I know my initial reaction was it felt dangerous to let him play on the awful turf in Portland. Vermes apparently shared those concerns.

“I would say he probably has another few so many weeks,” said Vermes. “I say that only because I want to make sure his overall fitness is good. I don’t want him now to tweak a hamstring or quad.”

Vermes continued when asked if we’d see him in Portland, “no disrespect to this either, but I wouldn’t put him in that game anyways. The turf and everything, just for the first game, I would not do that. I think it would be hard to see him in the Colorado [Rapids] game. Who knows for the home opener.”

Other Hot Topics on The Program

Of course, Peter didn’t only talk about the need at CB and Pulido. There were several other topics that stood out from the interview, including:

  • His contact from the USMNT about a job or jobs that he had turned down
  • He referenced draft pick Stephen Afrifa being added “more than likely” after he gets out of school in April/May.
  • He has the best three goalkeepers he’s ever had, but he declined to name a starter

I recommend giving the full interview a listen.

If that’s not enough time with Peter, he also spoke with the media on Thursday and addressed his contract extension, turning down the United States Men’s National Team interview and a range of other topics, including:

  • There was two minutes left in Johnny Russell’s shift in the last preseason game against Phoenix Rising and he went hard for a ball and tweaked his hamstring.
  • Facing the Portland Timbers in the opener
  • Options for replacing Russell while he’s out. He listed: Duke, Thommy, Shelton and Tzionis
  • On tips for becoming a manager and his longevity
  • A Nemanja Radoja injury update

The next time we’ll hear from Peter is after Monday night’s game in Portland.