Sporting Kansas City advanced to the Eastern Conference Championship without Omar Bravo. And apart from a five-minute cameo, they lost it without their Designated Player, too.
Bravo, who had been nursing a groin strain, left the locker room before reporters arrived following Kansas City’s 2-0 season-ending defeat to the Houston Dynamo on Sunday but had some interesting things to say on Univisión’s Contacto Deportivo on Monday.
The Mexican striker entered the match in the 85th minute with Sporting trailing 1-0, a deficit that doubled just two minutes later when Carlo Costly banged a shot in off the post. Midfielders Davy Arnaud and Jéferson both entered the match prior to Bravo, who told reporters he felt 100 percent prior to the match and was clearly frustrated to play such a limited role.
“I felt like I could play, without a doubt, but [manager Peter Vermes] said no, and I respect that,” Bravo told Univisión. “I started to feel a bit frustrated. Time was passing by and, even though I’m just one more [player], I felt that I had the capacity to contribute to the team. But five minutes are not enough.”
After starting the season with a brace in his first match against Chivas USA, Bravo fell on some tough times before rebounding strongly. He underwent surgery for a sports hernia injury in April and was out for six weeks but returned in plenty of time to help Kansas City make the playoffs.
Along with Teal Bunbury and Kei Kamara, Bravo scored nine goals to tie for the team lead. He said he had enjoyed his time with Sporting so far, but might have to rethink his place on the team based on Sunday’s events.
“I am super happy [in Kansas City],” he told Univisión, “but I have to think about the professional aspect, and obviously situations like [Sunday] give a lot to think about and talk about with Peter, with Robb [Heineman, SKC owner] and everyone in Kansas City.”
Following the match, Vermes reiterated that he waited to insert Bravo in the match because he didn’t feel the player was at 100 percent fitness and hadn’t played a minute in the playoffs up to that point. Asked to respond to his DP’s comments, he said he wouldn’t discuss conversations with his players or air out grievances in the media.
However, he did say Bravo was under contract for next year and that the Mexican striker was in his plans and expected him to return.
“I haven’t heard anything to the contrary,” Vermes said in a phone interview with MLSsoccer.com on Wednesday. “Everything would be expected [to go] as usual. He is under contract and should be back.”
Bravo told Univisión that he expected to meet with Vermes and club management to discuss the issue as well as his place with the team, emphasizing he was simply unhappy that there seemed to be a change in heart about his status.
“It’s a conversation I have pending,” he said. “I’m not asking for an explanation of whether you play or not – I’ve never been that kind of player – but there were things that were said one day and then things were different later. One day things are clear, another day they are very different from what they tell you in the locker room.”