Roberto Puncec - Union Berlin
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Sporting Kansas City sign Croatian defender Roberto Puncec


Sporting Kansas City have signed Croatian defender Roberto Puncec for the 2020 season. Puncec was out of contract after most recently featuring for HNK Rijeka.

Puncec, a 28-year-old center back, won the 2019 Croatian Cup this spring with Rijeka and featured extensively for Union Berlin in the 2. Bundesliga. He also played for Israeli powerhouse Maccabi Tel Aviv and was a regular for the Croatian U-21 national team.

“Roberto has significant experience playing in Europe over the last several years,” SKC manager and sporting director Peter Vermes said in a club statement. “He is very excited to be here and we look forward to him integrating into our club and our city.”

SKC missed the playoffs in 2019 while conceding 67 goals, second-most in MLS. Those figures coincided with the departure of 2017 MLS Defender of the Year Ike Opara, who won the top award for defenders once again in 2019 while defending the colors of Minnesota United.

In recent transfer windows the club has looked to the European market for fresh center back options, signing Botond Barath (ex-Honved Budapest) and Andreu Fontas (ex-Celta Vigo) on free transfers. Barath, a Hungarian international, played in 21 league matches in 2019, while Fontas appeared in 13 games for SKC.

Both are set to return in 2020, joining Puncec in a center back corps that also currently includes veteran starter Matt Besler and 2018 draft pick Graham Smith.

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