Yes, Sporting Kansas City will miss Dom Dwyer. But the decision to trade the new US international to Orlando City SC, manager and technical director Peter Vermes says, doesn’t mean that they’re sacrificing this season’s aspirations.
“We’ve maintained competitiveness in this league for a period of time and on a consistent basis,” Vermes said during a conference call on Tuesday hours after the trade was announced. “And that continues to be our objective.”
At the same time, he said, sometimes deals have to get done even if the timing isn’t perfect for everyone.
“The fact that I’m both, if you will, GM and coach – technical director and coach – I have to look at both the short- and long-term aspects of the organization,” Vermes said. “And when you’re in a salary-cap industry, like we are in our sport, people are going to want players on your team. And sometimes you can’t keep everybody, based on the constraints imposed on you, based on that salary cap.”
He returns to the city where he helped win the 2013 USL championship before Orlando City moved up to MLS, and departs as Sporting KC's No. 2 goalscorer all-time, with 67 goals across all competitions in 5 and a half seasons.
But Kansas City, currently second in the Western Conference and in the semifinals of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, will miss more than Dwyer’s offensive production. His energetic play off the ball in the attack wore down opposing defenders and opened space for his teammates, and few if any strikers in MLS can match his defensive intensity – both ranging back and as the point man in Vermes’ 4-3-3 high press.
“It won’t be easy,” Vermes said. “We’ll have to find a way – whether that’s working harder with the current guys we have, or somebody to replace him with, or what-have-you.”
If Sporting don’t move to pick up another striker during the summer window, Diego Rubio – who has come back from a season-ending ACL injury in 2016 – could be the new regular up top. Latif Blessing can also play both outside and inside, as can Homegrown Player Daniel Salloi, and both have multiple goals across all competitions for Sporting this year.
But what of the rumor that Sporting might use some of its windfall to make a run at bringing back Krisztian Nemeth, who helped them win the 2015 U.S. Open Cup title – and then promptly left for a big payday in Qatar after just one season in MLS?
Vermes didn’t rule out the possibility, even though Nemeth’s departure after rejecting a new deal and a raise was somewhat less than amicable. Still, he chose his words carefully.
“What I would say is that player, and many others, all of the above, are in play,” he said. “The question’s going to be whether or not we’re able to get a deal done with another player in the short term, or does it wind up being in the next window?
“I want to make it clear that it’s not like all of a sudden we’re reacting to the situation. Our roster is fluid; it’s never completed. And so we currently have a set of targets at every position, and this is something we’ve been looking at for quite a long time.”