Vermes says Convey won't be limited to defensive role

Any inkling that Sporting Kansas City manager Peter Vermes would stand pat this offseason has quickly been put to rest during the past week.

Sporting grabbed headlines again on Friday, acquiring Bobby Convey from San Jose in a trade that sent an international roster spot in 2012 to the Earthquakes in exchange for a player who was named to the MLS All Star team in both of the past two seasons.

Vermes said the club had signed Convey, who would have been available for selection in the Re-Entry Draft after San Jose declined to exercise their option on his contract, to a four-year deal despite competition for the versatile 28-year-old.

“I’ve always from afar thought that Bobby Convey was an exceptional player,” Vermes said in a conference call with reporters on Friday. “He’s one of the true wide players that I think we’ve developed in this country. It’s a position on our team on the field where it’s always great to have depth. I think he fits into our system very well with the way that he plays.”

At the very least, Convey figures to bring an ability to serve the ball from the left flank, something that was often lacking last season with Omar Bravo preferring to tuck inside and much of the wide play coming on the right via Chance Myers and Kei Kamara.

Convey had 10 assists during a career year in 2010, although that production tailed off considerably in 2011 (one goal, two assists). With Sporting reacquiring left back Seth Sinovic from Montreal last week, the biggest question is where the best fit for Convey will be in Kansas City’s 4-3-3 formation, which emphasizes attack-minded play from its fullbacks.

He played mostly left back in San Jose this past year, but Vermes said he won’t pigeon-hole Convey and believes the former Reading man has the ability to play further forward for Kansas City.

“That’s the benefit of [Convey],” Vermes said. “He can play in different places. He can play left back. He can play the left winger in our 4-3-3. He can play underneath the center striker. He just has many places where he can fit in, and that’s one of the things I really like about him.”

It’s also hard not to like Convey’s pedigree, even if his career has had its share of ups and downs.

He played in all three games at the 2006 World Cup and has 46 caps for the United States, but he has just four appearances for the US since 2006 and none since 2008. He's also had some rough public relations moments over that time, especially during the past six months.

Convey had a very public falling-out in San Jose, taking his grievances with manager Frank Yallop public this fall. He didn’t make an appearance for the team from Aug. 27 onward.

Vermes, who has emphasized improving the culture of the squad since taking over as manager late in the 2009 season, said the staff took that into consideration but, ultimately, they weren't worried about Convey fitting in with Kansas City.

“What happens with players at different places obviously you take into your decision-making process,” Vermes said. “But at the end, it’s really how the player is going to fit into what we’re doing here. There are challenges with every player. Players have challenges with coaches.

“It’s all about how we deal with them. I fully expect Bobby to be excited about coming here and making himself a part of the team and, more importantly, having a strong impact on what we do on the field.”