KANSAS CITY, Mo. – After his first training session with Sporting Kansas City, new midfielder Antonio Dovale dropped a bombshell.
“As I have seen, the rhythm is higher than La Liga,” said Dovale, who signed with the defending MLS Cup champions on Tuesday after spending the last five seasons with Spain's Celta Vigo. “The intensity is higher than La Liga. I can become a better player, a more complete player. I can grow up here.”
The new arrival also lauded Sporting's high-pressing, high-possession style of play during a short news conference on Wednesday.
“I know that inside MLS, Sporting Kansas City is one of the teams that have a more complete way to play,” he said. “For my characteristics, I think I'm a player that can be good for this team.”
Dovale's versatility in the midfield – Celta Vigo also used him at left back – made him an attractive target for Sporting, manager Peter Vermes said.
“We have actually been talking and scouting Toni for about a year and a half now,” Vermes said. “He has the ability to play a multiple positions on the team, and it was a good situation for us and for him.”
Dovale, who had four goals in 67 league appearances with Celta Vigo, is one of two Spanish playes on Sporting's roster, along with defensive midfielder Uri Rosell.
That doesn't represent a push to get ahead of the rest of the league in signing players from Spain, Vermes said.
“I think for us it was more built around the way we play,” he said. “You can look for players all over the world if you want to, but that doesn't mean that the country where you're looking, their style fits the way you play.”
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Dovale will be eligible for selection once his transfer and visa clear. In the meantime, he'll work to get integrated as quickly as possible.
“I know they are a championship team, a winning team,” he said, “and for me that makes it more exciting to come be part of that family and fight to win championships and competitions.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.