Sporting Kansas City have been fast movers this offseason despite getting a late start.
SKC topped the Western Conference with a club record point total of 62 and were at the precipice of a berth in MLS Cup, but were eliminated by the Portland Timbers in an enthralling 3-2 aggregate loss. Less than a month later, SKC have acquired Rodney Wallace, Erik Hurtado, Botond Barath and Kelyn Rowe while parting ways with Diego Rubio and Khiry Shelton.
Now that the dust has settled, they aren't definitely finished making moves, but head coach Peter Vermes is content with where his squad is today.
"We're very close," Vermes said on a media conference call Wednesday. "There's a good chance there might be one other addition but that will come a little later. ... Outside of that, we have almost finalized our roster. A big emphasis was the players were targeted, to get them in as quick as possible with us starting up with Champions League. We had to make sure we had a roster put together. We had to be ready."
It wasn't without a few surprises, though.
Vermes leaned on Shelton and Rubio to split most minutes at center forward last season. Currently, the players most likely to inherit those minutes are Hurtado and Krisztian Nemeth. The former has never scored more than five goals in an MLS season, and has eclipsed 600 minutes just twice, while Nemeth is has scored just two goals in his last 30 MLS appearances, though just 11 starts. On the other hand, the last time Nemeth was with Sporting, in 2015, he scored 11 goals and six assists in 29 combined regular-season and postseason appearances.
"We've added Hurtado, we have Nemeth, as you saw this past year, (Daniel) Salloi can play in there as well," Vermes asserted. "We have other abilities to play that position, I feel comfortable with those guys and confident. Pretty simple."
Another surprise was the signing of Barath, another center back, as former MLS Defender of the Year Ike Opara was making headlines for telling the club to consider trade offers for him if they didn't want to give him a pay raise.
Vermes looked to clarify that discussion.
"He had a conversation with me, I think the context is incorrect," Vermes said. "He did not ask for a trade. What he did ask for, like a lot of players this time of the year, they'd like to get more money. That's not abnormal on anybody's team. He also said he would like to finish his career in Kansas City if it was possible, he just wants to make more money. I understand that."
With that context, Vermes surely didn't rule out a new contract nor trade.
"It's never an easy discussion, but we have to go and build our team," Vermes said. "We're going to do that first, and use the resources we have on the targets we have identified. With all that being said, there is not a player on our team that has ever been untouchable. We've always looked at every situation that comes in, we consider all the options presented to us and then we make decisions from there."
Regardless of who is, or isn't, on the roster, the club have an early start to 2019.
SKC's Concacaf Champions League adventure kicks off on Feb. 21 against Liga MX's Toluca, a week and a half before the MLS season is slated to kick off. The early start on the offseason allows the four players acquired so far to have a full preseason with under Vermes to get up to speed on the SKC way.