KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Three years ago, Peter Vermes tried hard to get Giovani Dos Santos to come to MLS.
The deal never materialized, despite months of efforts – “long enough to know that it wasn't going to happen,” Sporting Kansas City's manager and technical director told reporters on Thursday, two days ahead of Saturday's home match against the Montreal Impact (8:30 pm ET, MLS LIVE). “At times, that's the way it's going to be. Sometimes, players aren't going to want to come. It's a timing thing. Maybe they don't want to come here. Maybe they want to be on the beach. I don't know. It could be a number of things. But we talked to him for quite a while at that time, and his people.”
Now, the Mexican star has signed with another club: the LA Galaxy, who used the league's new Targeted Allocation Money mechanism to land Dos Santos during the summer transfer window.
Eight years ago, the Galaxy were the first to make use of the DP rule to land megastar David Beckham – and both times, detractors said the same thing: That MLS is willing to write new rules or bend existing ones to help LA and other big-market clubs.
But while Vermes acknowledges the challenges of building a competitive roster in a small market, he also doesn't see the new rule as an attempt to benefit the Galaxy or any other franchise in particular.
“I don't think that way,” Vermes told reporters last week, before Dos Santos' signing became official. “It would be easy to think that way, but that's just not my mentality in these types of things. The league is trying to progress. I don't think the league is trying to do something more for LA than they are for Kansas City. I don't see it that way. I look at it differently. I think it's great that LA is bringing in the players that they're bringing in. I think it's good for our league.”
And if any clubs do feel the league has a soft spot for the Galaxy at the expense of other teams, Vermes had some harsh words for them.
“If that was the case, and we all thought that way, then shame on all the teams that think that way, based on the impact that David Beckham had on our league,” he said. “And if LA wasn't going to step up and do that, who was going to? He gave a big injection to our league, and that's huge for us. And that's why the league's growing. That's why we're all sitting here. That's why we all have opportunities to make a living in what we like to do, and so I'm more appreciative of that type of stuff than anything else.”
Still, Vermes said on Thursday, the new rule will have to be reckoned with going forward.
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“Parity is one thing,” he said. “It's another thing that teams are constantly going out and trying to become better, and there's a lot of players coming into this league that are of high quality. And so for us to continue to be relevant and competitive, we have to be on top of our game all the time. Because it's not as if it's getting easier.”
However, he said, Sporting haven't ruled out making a “name” signing of their own at some point – just not for the publicity value.
“I can't speak for everybody. I can only speak for here,” he said. “Obviously, the first objective for us is to get a good player that fits into the way we play. If you can get the marketability out of a player as well, then that's the grand slam. But we don't go after that second one. We're going after the first one. If the second one happens to be there, then great.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.