KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Ryan Smith will not play again for Sporting Kansas City this season after returning home for undisclosed family reasons.
Manager Peter Vermes said he and Smith had discussed the attacker’s situation for the last month or so before the final decision was made to allow him to return home to be with his family. At the time of publication, Smith was already traveling back to England and was not available for comment.
“It’s very simple,” Vermes said Tuesday. “As an organization, we support him in dealing with this situation with his family. That’s the way it goes sometimes. It’s just something that he has to do. It doesn’t make sense for us to think we would try to keep him and hold him. That would be pretty selfish on our part. Family comes first.”
After playing for a handful of clubs in the Championship and League One following his release from Arsenal, where he came up through the academy, Sporting signed Smith before the 2010 season. The move paid immediate dividends as Smith provided a speedy, skillful presence on the flanks for Kansas City, scoring three goals and leading the team with seven assists in 26 games.
However, he has been hampered by injuries this season, making only six appearances and scoring one goal. Smith missed all of the preseason as he rehabbed from offseason knee surgery and had recently been struggling with a groin strain that caused him to miss the team’s past few matches.
Vermes said Smith is in year two of a four-year contract and his absence would give the team some flexibility to find a replacement if they so choose.
“It gives us a [roster] spot, and it opens up some room for us,” Vermes said. “It allows us to go out and get someone. That doesn’t necessarily mean we will, but we will continue to look to try and find someone.”
And as for Smith’s future with the club beyond 2011?
Vermes said there was certainly a “possibility” that the both parties would revisit Smith’s status with the club once the season ended, but refused to engage in any guesswork in regards to Smith’s future with Sporting Kansas City.
“I don’t have an answer to that,” he said. “I’m not going to speculate on when or what that will be.”
And although Kansas City are sad to see Smith go, they aren’t necessarily left in a lurch by his absence either. Omar Bravo, C.J. Sapong, Teal Bunbury and Kei Kamara are all first-choice options on any given day and rounding into form while Smith had already been a question mark for most of the year.
“We hadn’t really seen [Ryan] much at all through the course of this year,” Vermes said. “I have the utmost faith and confidence in the guys that we have on our roster right now.”