With eye on internationals, Sporting add depth

Peter Vermes and CJ Sapong

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Kansas City, Mo. – Most figured Peter Vermes would look to the defensive side of the ball with his picks in Thursday’s MLS SuperDraft.

In the end, Vermes added depth in every area of the field.

Sporting Kansas City drafted four college seniors and shored up some of their remaining weak spots in Baltimore after agreeing to a deal in principal with out-of-contract Michael Harrington and announcing the signing of Luke Sassano earlier in the day.

Kansas City selected forward C.J. Sapong with the 10th pick of the first round and added defender J.T. Murray and midfielder Konrad Warzycha in subsequent rounds. The club’s first round pick came down to a choice between two players before the Chicago Fire made the decision simple by snatching the top-rated defender off the board.

“We had two guys on our depth chart that we wanted to pick with that pick,” Vermes said. “It’s not hard to say it was between (Jalil) Anibaba and (C.J.) Sapong. We think that Sapong fits our team very well based on the way we play.”

Vermes described Sapong, who scored 12 goals and had nine assists for James Madison last season, as a strong, physical striker who uses his technique and tactical acumen to play well with his back to the goal and bring teammates into the play.

WATCH: Sapong excited to join KC

[inline_node:326565]Sapong was deployed as an attacking midfielder in college, but Vermes said he envisioned the 6-foot-2 striker as a center or right forward in Sporting’s 4-3-3 formation.

“We scouted him in a few games over the course of the last two years,” Vermes said. “He was somebody that we thought was pretty interesting. Now, with the way we play, he just fit in and seemed like a very good choice. With Teal now being with the national team, we need to have as much depth in those parts of the field as possible.”

National team commitments also played a role in the team’s second selection of the day as Kansas City provided cover for Roger Espinoza, who figures to be with Honduras during this summer’s Gold Cup.

Murray played in the midfield during his first few seasons at Louisville before dropping to left back and thriving there as the team advanced to the national championship game, where it lost to Akron.

“JT Murray is a guy who used to be more of a midfield type player,” Vermes said, “but that’s what has made him such a good left back. He can come out with the ball and make very good decisions because he is comfortable on the ball having played midfield.”

Like Murray, Warzycha also figures to contribute with his versatility while also boasting an impressive bloodline.

His father is Crew manager Robert Warzycha, which makes Konrad the second Sporting player with a father who played in MLS along with Teal Bunbury.

“He is our second player who is a son of a player in the league,” Vermes said. “I thought we did pretty good on the first one. Konrad has some very good qualities. He’s also been training with Columbus over the last couple years as well. He’s not foreign to the level of play.”

Sapong, Murray and Warzycha will report to training camp along with Kansas City’s other players on Jan. 24.


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