KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Ryan Smith’s name popped up in the Mexican media this week, linking the winger with Guadalajara side Atlas just days after the club purchased Chicago Fire forward Gastón Puerari.
That purported interest was news to Sporting Kansas City.
According to manager Peter Vermes, he knows about as much as the rest of us when it comes to foreign interest in his winger. Not that the club hasn’t tried to shed some light on the situation in recent days.
“No one has ever contacted us,” Vermes said at training this week. “We have a pretty darn good relationship with Atlas. I think that they would have reached out to either [Sporting COO] Greg Cotton or myself or even Robb Heineman. We’re actually trying to track down if there really is interest. As far as I’m concerned, it’s not legitimate.”
Sporting signed Smith on a free transfer prior to last season after the Englishman bounced around England’s lower leagues with a handful of teams after leaving Arsenal, where he came up through the academy structure.
He was one of the team’s most productive players in 2010 (three goals and seven assists in 26 games) but has struggled with his health and fitness this season after undergoing knee surgery in the offseason. Smith has appeared in just six games this year, making two starts and scoring once, and he is currently struggling with a groin injury that has kept him out of Kansas City’s past two games.
With the pressure on to field a winning team to help showcase Livestrong Sporting Park, it would seem the club might want to hang on to their most valuable assets. But the cupboard is far from bare, and Vermes has plenty of attacking options in Omar Bravo, Kei Kamara, Teal Bunbury, Graham Zusi and C.J. Sapong should a transfer materialize in the coming days, weeks or months.
And, from the sounds of it, Kansas City wouldn’t stand in the way of a move if the price were right and the deal made sense from a business and sporting perspective.
“Our five owners are entrepreneurs,” Vermes said. “If anyone ever came to them with a deal for any of their businesses, I’m sure they would never say, ‘I don’t want to talk about it.’ You are always going to listen and hear what someone has to say. That doesn’t mean you are going to act on it.”