It wasn’t necessarily that Omar Bravo was actively seeking to leave Kansas City. Far from it, according to Sporting manager Peter Vermes.
Still, business is business.
And as it turned out, the deal struck between Sporting KC and Cruz Azul that sent Bravo back to Mexico’s Primera División on Monday afternoon simply ended up being too mutually beneficial for any party to stand in the way.
“You have to take it in the context of business,” Vermes said on MLSsoccer.com’s ExtraTime Radio. “It wound up being very beneficial for him and us. I understand from the business perspective why the decision was made.”
The terms of the deal were not made public according to league policy and Vermes declined to outline the nitty-gritty details, but he said the club received “some benefits that will help us down the road with some other players” in return for the departure of the Designated Player.
Kansas City also retained the Mexican’s MLS rights should their leading scorer in 2011 – Bravo, Kei Kamara and Teal Bunbury all scored nine goals – decide to return to the league.
“[Cruz Azul] really wanted him, pursued it very very hard with the league and with us and Omar – I’m telling you – was in between a rock and hard place,” Vermes said. “He wasn’t sure how to do it. He really wanted to stay. He loved playing in MLS and the challenge of it.
“But I think you are smart enough to figure out that obviously there were benefits on both sides that eventually got the deal done. That’s really it.”
Though much was made of Bravo’s conspicuous absence from Sporting’s lineup during the MLS Cup Playoffs – a campaign that saw the striker play just five minutes in Kansas City’s 2-0 loss to Houston in the Eastern Conference Championship due to injury – Vermes said that didn’t play a role in his departure.
Rather, any hard feelings from that episode were smoothed over during a meeting between Bravo, Vermes and club president Robb Heineman after the season, during which both sides reiterated that they were content with the situation Kansas City.
But that didn’t keep Mexican clubs from sniffing around the former El Tri stalwart once the offseason player market started heating up.
Sporting general counsel Greg Cotton told MLSsoccer.com in a phone interview that interest in Bravo south of the border began heating up in the days following the Expansion Draft, and negotiations with Cruz Azul took a serious turn in the past five or six days.
Things moved quickly from there, culminating in Monday’s announcement.
Although Bravo was an integral piece of the squad that ended the season atop the Eastern Conference, Cotton said the organization’s priority was to keep the side’s young core together indefinitely. Along those lines, the deal should give Vermes plenty of flexibility to ensure that, while also giving him the resources to dip into the transfer market for another DP.
“We have DPs that we’ve had targeted for some time,” Vermes said. "They’re all in attacking positions. Very high-quality guys. We’ve been talking with a few of them over the last few weeks here. We’ll continue to do that as we move into the January window and hopefully having the ability to solidify one of those deals in that timeframe.”
For now, though, Bobby Convey – acquired via a trade with San Jose – will be the de facto starter at left forward while Vermes navigates the foreign market in search of another marquee player.
Either way, Sporting will have big shoes to fill replacing Bravo, who leaves on harmonious terms after one successful season in Kansas City.
“The unfortunate thing is that he won’t be here,” Vermes said. “I would love for him to continue to stay with us, but there was a deal that was reached between Cruz Azul, MLS and Sporting Kansas City. It really benefitted everyone. We’ve had long discussions with Omar as well, and I think he agonized over making the decision because he also wanted to stay here.”