KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Oriol Rosell has cleared the hurdles one by one: trial, negotiations, paperwork, signing, more training and, finally, debut.
Now, after seeing his first action with Sporting Kansas City against D.C. United last weekend, the former Barcelona B midfielder is getting down to the task of securing more playing time with the Eastern Conference leaders.
“I feel great,” Rosell told MLSsoccer.com through an interpreter on Wednesday. “I’ve taken the opportunity to get to know the coaching staff and the other players, to get to bond and learn. Now it’s just about getting minutes in.”
The 20-year-old Rosell, the only Spaniard playing in MLS this season, signed as a discovery player on August 2 and came on to play stoppage time in Saturday’s 2-1 home victory over D.C. United.
That’s a fairly quick progression for manager Peter Vermes, who stresses match fitness and system familiarity as prerequisites for playing with points on the line.
“He’s a good soccer player. I couldn’t take that out of him,” Vermes said on Tuesday. “It’s in there. And we did some tests on him when he first got in here, fitness wise, and we were more than surprised by his V02 Max. It’s going to be higher because he’s a midfielder, but it was high even for that.”
And, as a product of Barca’s youth system, Rosell was already familiar with the 4-3-3 formation.
“The style of play that they put in training is basically the same as it is in Barcelona,” Rosell said of Sporting KC. “A lot of teams, more and more here in America, are putting in that style of play. I’m happy, because it didn’t take me that long to adjust and I get to enjoy the game better.”
Rosell’s assessment echoed that of his new manager.
“He wasn’t far off from the way that we’ve been playing,” Vermes said. “He’s fit in pretty quickly. We’ll just keep growing and building and see where it goes.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.