They've lost one key player to the English Premier League already. Now, they're risking the loss of another, if Norwich City elect to exercise their purchase option when forward Kei Kamara's loan is up in May.
For Sporting Kansas City, that's the cost of developing talent in a worldwide market.
“We realize that the players on our team, within our organization, are ambitious,” head coach Peter Vermes said in a conference call on Wednesday. “We're probably not the last stop for a lot of them”
Kamara's loan, which runs through May 6, follows the departure of midfielder Roger Espinoza for Wigan Athletic after five seasons in Kansas City. And with US national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann challenging players to rise to the highest possible club level, the list of those leaving to go overseas could grow before too long.
Defender Matt Besler and midfielder Graham Zusi have already had their names linked to international clubs in recent months despite being under contract with SKC, and midfielder Benny Feilhaber is already proven in the European ranks. All three played for Klinsmann during the US’ scoreless draw against Canada on Tuesday night.
“That's another ambition for players on our team,” Vermes said. “And obviously, when they get to that level, there are people around the world watching them in that arena, which then creates even more demand for those players. So as we move forward, we realize that we will continue to be approached by a lot of clubs around the world.”
In the short term, Vermes said, the loan fee for Kamara – undisclosed but described by Sporting as “substantial” – will help Kansas City retain some of their talent.
“That's part of the long-term aspect of this,” he said. “We can take some of the money from this loan and reinvest it back in some of the players that we have coming up for new contracts. So we're going to be able to sit down at this time and work on new deals for a couple of players. I don't want to talk about who they are, but they're a couple of core-group guys within our team.”
Vermes also repeated the club's position that the loan offers a way to respect Kamara's wish to try his luck in England while retaining the hope of getting him back.
“It's a way for him to get it out of his system a little bit, see if it's what he really wants to do,” he said. “Maybe he comes back and we're able to do a longer-term deal with him.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.