Sporting Kansas City have so far made one big acquisition during their offseason overhaul, bringing in young winger Gerso Fernandes on a Designated Player deal, and manager and technical director Peter Vermes hinted that more deals could be in the works.
“We still have a couple of players we're working on in different positions on the field,” Vermes said on Wednesday during a conference call that followed the announcement of Fernandes' transfer from Portuguese side Belenenses. “I think we're getting closer, to be honest with you. I would say it's maybe going better than some other times.
“I think we're getting closer on some other guys, and hopefully we'll have some announcements in another couple of weeks.”
Vermes was, as usual, tight-lipped beyond that. One clear item on his to-do list, though, is reaching an agreement with former D.C. United goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra, after taking him in the MLS Re-Entry Draft last month.
“That deal's close,” he said. “The rule is that after Re-Entry, you basically have seven days to make a bona fide offer. We've done that. We're working through that, so I think we're getting close.”
Signing Dykstra would give Sporting three 'keepers, along with incumbent Tim Melia and Adrian Zendejas, promoted from USL side Swope Park Rangers. Sporting also signed speedy Canadian Tyler Pasher from the Rangers to provide depth at both fullback and the wing.
The current youth movement also will see three young players rejoin Sporting after significant absences – two Homegrown players coming back from loan deals in Europe and one returning to Children's Mercy Park on a second loan from his Brazilian club.
Fullback Igor Juliao has been away the longest, on three loan spells over two years from Fluminense after spending the 2014 season with Sporting. Saad Abdul-Salaam emerged as a starter in Juliao's spot last season, and his six assists were second-most on the team, but Vermes said the job is wide open – even though Sporting are looking to strengthen their wing play up front and Igor Juliao showed off plenty of creativity and on-the-ball skill the last time he was in Kansas City.
“I like players that can play multiple positions, but the primary reason we're bringing him in is to be an outside back,” Vermes said. “That doesn't mean that can't change, but that's why we're bringing him back.”
Center back Erik Palmer-Brown spent 2016 with the B team of Portuguese power FC Porto, and forward Daniel Salloi – who started the past year in Kansas City, scoring four goals in 10 games with USL side Swope Park Rangers – is back for 2017 after spending the second half of 2016 in his native Hungary.
Chilean striker Diego Rubio is sidelined with a torn ACL, but Vermes said Salloi is more likely to compete for playing time on the wing – though that could be a steep challenge, given the club's signing of Fernandes.
“Salloi is a very good left winger,” Vermes said. “Not to say that's his only place. He could also play center forward, but we have a few other guys who can play up there as well.”
“I think if anything, he's matured as a person for sure. I think that's a big piece,” Vermes said. “I saw quite a few of his games, and I think he possessed the qualities he had when he was here. I just think the environment was good for him, being away from Kansas City and home and everything else.”