Peter Vermes - Side-Eye solo shot - 2017 US Open Cup final
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After goal-starved 2017, Sporting KC embark on search for striker

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Peter Vermes is normally pretty cagey when you ask him about his transfer-window shopping plans. The usual response from Sporting Kansas City's manager and technical director runs along the lines of, “We're always looking to get better at every position.”

Not this time. Not after finishing difficulties in 2017 that saw Sporting find the net just 40 times in the regular season, second-lowest among playoff teams. Down the stretch, the production level was even lower; Sporting scored just three times in their last five regular season matches and then were shut out in their Knockout Round loss at Houston.

“For us, it's a clear idea of what we need,” Vermes told reporters earlier this month during Sporting's final round of after-season interviews. “If we can score more goals over the course of the season, we put ourselves in a much different position to be contenders at the end.

“That's the thing we have to do. We have to find someone to fit that. That's also going to take resources as well.”

Creating chances wasn't the issue, Vermes said; the problem was putting those chances into the back of the net.

“We've created the chances,” he said. “Now it's about finding the guy who's going to be hungry enough and technically good enough and calm enough in those moments to put the ball in the back of the net.”

And, he said, the answer isn't on the current roster.

“We just went through a whole season and it didn't happen,” he said. “We have to find somebody. It's obvious that we didn't have that guy, and we need to find somebody to fill that role. That process has been going on since last January.”

Even if Sporting do land a scorer, Vermes said, the club will still look to score by committee. And on that front, he was encouraged by winger Gerso's team- and career-high eight goals in league play and nine across all competitions, after scoring just 12 goals in his first five professional seasons in Portugal.

“When you look at goal scoring, it doesn't come from one person,” he said. “It's always by committee – but you also need one guy that you can count on.

“You go back to 2013, we had Claudio Bieler here. The guy scored. The first half of the season, all the goals that he scored put us not only in a position to make the playoffs, but in a position to play the final at home, because of the points we had. He had the game-winning goal against New England in the conference [semi]final, and he also scored his penalty kick in the [shootout in the] final. When you have a player like that taking charge, where you can count on that guy scoring 15-20 goals a season, and then everybody else sprinkles in from other places, that's huge.”

Vermes also bristled at a reporter's question as to whether striker Dom Dwyer, traded to Orlando City SC this past summer for up to a record $1.6 million in allocation monies, could have been the missing piece late in the year at Children's Mercy Park.

“Do you know his statistics from this year?” Vermes asked. “Both here and there: 14 starts with us, five goals; 11 starts for them, four goals. It's not a difference. When you can't come to an agreement with somebody on a contract in this business – and in every other sport in this country – at some point, you have to make a decision.

“You can't keep everybody around. I have a salary cap to manage. That's the way it goes.”

Will the money from the Dwyer trade be weighted toward that scorer search, then?

“It helps,” Vermes said, “but I think you understand this if you look around the league: this is a much different position than just that money.”