KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Sporting Kansas City went local on Tuesday, acquiring the rights to midfielder Michael Thomas from San Jose before the Supplemental Draft began and adding another Kansas City product with their final pick.
Sporting acquired the right of first refusal from the Earthquakes for Thomas, who spent the past two years playing professionally in Sweden, for their fourth-round pick (No. 73 overall) in Tuesday’s follow up to the MLS SuperDraft. Kansas City also added four players via the Supplemental Draft later in the day, selecting Shawn Singh (UCLA), Stefan Antonijevic (Valparaiso), Pablo Punyed (St. John’s) and Kyle Miller (Rockhurst).
Thomas was originally drafted by San Jose in the 2010 MLS SuperDraft but chose to sign with Halmstads BK in Sweden, and eventually moved on to Ljungskile SK. Sporting KC manager Peter Vermes confirmed that he is working to sign Thomas and hopes to announce a deal soon.
Not only does Thomas hail from the Kansas City metro area, he also played at Notre Dame with Matt Besler and for the same local youth club as both Besler and Seth Sinovic.
"Michael was a team first kind of guy, who is extremely competitive and driven,” Besler told MLSsoccer.com. “He's the type of player that will lay it on the line each and every day. He sort of reminds me of Davy [Arnaud] in that he always finds a way to get the job done. I'm excited to have [him] join our team not just because we have played together, but because I think he's a great fit for our team and will help us win."
Vermes described first-round supplemental pick Singh as "very good on the ball and in possession." Singh was a walk-on at UCLA who went on to start nearly every game during his college career. According Vermes, Punyed is a "two-way midfielder that has good attacking tendencies in regards to making the final pass and covers a lot of ground.”
After making it clear that he wants his central defenders to be able to play the ball out of the back, Vermes said he believes Antonijevic fits that description in addition to possessing a knack for reading the game. At 6-foot-6, the defender from Valparaiso is also handful in the air.
Sporting KC's final pick was Miller, another Kansas City-area player. Vermes is well acquainted with the midfielder from his time at Rockhurst University, which is located in Kansas City, Mo., and during some time spent training with Sporting.
Still, despite their various attributes and success stories, all four face an uphill battle to make the squad, as Vermes will be forced to trim the roster as preseason goes on.
“We got some quality guys," Vermes said. "They made the first hurdle, getting picked. Now they need to make the team."