Gerso's sterling season continues in Sporting KC's big Open Cup win

KANSAS CITY, Kan. – When Sporting Kansas City brought Gerso in to play on the wing this year, the expectation was that he’d provide service to forward Dom Dwyer but also do some scoring himself to keep defenses honest around Sporting’s star striker.

Halfway through June, Gerso has seven goals across all competitions – and finally has his first assist in a Sporting kit.

The Designated Player from Guinea-Bissau scored once himself and set up Dom Dwyer’s goal in the 72nd minute of Wednesday night’s 4-0 rout of Minnesota United in the fourth round of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup.

“Finally,” Gerso said of notching his first assist. “I am so happy for that. So far this season has been the best season of my life, and I want to keep working to do the best I can.”

Gerso’s first Open Cup goal, meanwhile, was a nifty bit of opportunism and positioning in first-half stoppge time. Daniel Salloi’s shot smacked the woodwork and fell to Gerso, who worked himself free for a clean finish and a 2-0 lead.

“Maybe the way the team plays gives me more of the opportunity to score and also assist my teammates,” he said. “The way we work here is different than I used to work in Portugal.”

Manager Peter Vermes, who brought Gerso in from Portuguese side Os Belenenses in the offseason, demurred when asked if Wednesday night’s performance typified his expectations for the winger.

“He’s done very well thus far,” Vermes said. “I wouldn’t say that it’s just this game. His progression has been very good. I can say that about all the guys that we’ve added to the team.

“Probably the most important part is that they’re great people, and adding really, really good people to the organization is part of our core values. When you add people like that, you’re always going to have opportunities to find success in many different ways.”

Dwyer’s goal was his sixth in Open Cup play for Sporting, giving him sole possession of the club career lead, and goalkeeper Tim Melia also set a club record with his fifth Open Cup victory. Both records fell in a match that saw Vermes go heavy on first-choice players in a round that often sees MLS sides go farther down the roster.

Only Salloi, who scored his first goal for Sporting in the 83rd minute in his first career start with the club, hadn’t been in multiple starting lineups this season.

“I don’t know why I wouldn’t put the best group of guys out there I could to win the game,” said Vermes, who managed Sporting to Open Cup titles in 2012 and 2015. “That’s what I did. I don’t look at it as first-team guys. I don’t look at it as second-team guys. I don’t look at it as anything.

“This is a very important tournament. It’s an opportunity for us to win a trophy, and we’re going to do the best we can. We’re going to play and try to win every game – and to do that, you’ve got to constantly put teams out there that can get the job done.”