Sporting KC: 2017 Season Begins “SKC 2.0”

Sporting KC
ORLANDO, FL - SEPTEMBER 13: Head coach Peter Vermes of Sporting Kansas City is seen during a MLS soccer match between Sporting Kansas City and the Orlando City SC at the Orlando Citrus Bowl on September 13, 2015 in Orlando, Florida. Orlando won the match 3-1.(Photo by Alex Menendez/Getty Images)

Kansas City, Missouri (January 20th, 2017)- Sporting KC Manager and Technical Director, Peter Vermes, spoke with media Friday before the team heads to Tuscon, Arizona for pre-season training. In the session he laid out his vision for what this team might look like in 2017. An early hint? “It’s SKC 2.0”

Sporting KC: 2017 Season Begins “SKC 2.0”

As Sporting KC head into pre-season training, there is a mix of excitement and uncertainty surrounding the squad they’ve assembled for the 2017 season.

Usually everything looks really good on paper, then you get on the field. I’m excited with the new players that we’ve brought in, I’m excited with the new staff members that we’ve brought in to the club as well, I just feel very good about this next step that we’re taking. Obviously, it’s going to take a little bit of time to bring everything together.”

Sporting KC have added seven new players to their roster, with most of them being under the age of 28. Technically, they’ll have a couple more in their first pre-season with Sporting KC. When asked about how they would work to assimilate them Vermes said this,

“I won’t say if we’ll go back (to basics), we’ll probably change our pre-season a little bit. It won’t be drastic, but we’ll probably give a pretty good picture of how we play earlier on. We didn’t have to do that in the last couple years because we had so many guys returning. The reason we get that picture up early is so they know what the goal is. Our methodology will be more or less centered around that.”

One of the newest additions, is DP winger Gerso Fernandes. Fernandes came over on a deal from Belenenses in the Portuguese first division. In first looks at what Gerso can do, and who Gerso is, his speed jumps off the screen at you. He also shows a motor that goes long into games, and includes both sides of the ball. Obviously the speed is an asset, but the question was if they would change. Vermes said, “We are who we are, and that’s not changing.” When asked if Gerso has the ability to play in Sporting KC’s style and system, Vermes said this:

“He’s very good (in possession). He also has the ability to eliminate guys 1v1 with the dribble. Then (there are) situations in the game where you can take advantage of his speed, especially over the top of the team. Because no matter how a team comes in with their game-plan, either to sit in or step up on you, there is always moments in transition that provide space in behind teams. So speed is a very welcomed asset, whether a team has dropped off or whether a team is playing high on you.”

Versatility seems to be a theme with this roster, and the type of players Vermes has brought in for 2017. When asked if this team was more similar to the teams from 2011, 2012, and 2013, Vermes responded by saying this:

“It’s definitely younger. It’s got more pace to it, and I think it’s gonna be a hungry group. We’ve got a lot of youth on the team. We feel we needed to make a little bit of a turn within the group. We also have some very core guys within the team too, and within each of the lines. So, Yes and No. As you guys know I’m not a guy to look backwards all that much. I’m really looking forward, I’m excited about the ability to sort of build this new group, and use some of the assets we have. Because a lot of the guys we’ve brought in have the ability to play multiple positions, which is really good for the team.”

In clarifying “the turn” Vermes said,

“I don’t know, it’s kinda SKC 2.0. Taking the next step. Obviously we’ve changed a lot of players out. Again, you’re taking a group and turning them into the next team that you see. I think we’ve added some really interesting pieces that could provide us with some really interesting qualities that we haven’t had here recently.”

For 2017, it does mark a turn. A younger squad, a little more depth, a little more speed, and a whole lot of versatility. Of course we have to wait to see how things look on the field. But for the most part, there is good reason for Sporting KC supporters to be excited about this year, and the future of their club.

Other Notable Quotes:

On Jimmy Medranda’s position for next year and the future:

“Jimmy is a guy who can play anywhere on the field, except for Goalkeeper and Central Defender…Jimmy has some really good qualities in the attacking third, he’s very good and I also think that he has goals in him. Jimmy has taken a while to assimilate himself into the team. I think he really made a mark last year, and this year is going to be big for him”

On Besler and Dwyer’s Surgery and Recovery:

“They both progressed really well, was a surgery that was really long overdue. I doubt that either would be full capacity on monday, but we’ll build them in as pre-season goes. If we have to sacrifice a couple weeks here in the early pre-season, that’s ok. The benefit that they got from  the surgery and now moving forward is going to be very welcome. I know both guys played with a lot of pain throughout the course of last year.”

On potentially loaning players to Swope Park Rangers (USL Affiliate):

“It’s way too early to have that discussion. I mean, it’s why we have SPR, and you saw how we used that last year, but it would be crazy for me to comment on any of our players right now, and who is doing what.”

On new transparency in MLS on TAM/GAM and Trades:

“I think it’s great. I don’t think it’s that big of a deal, if somebody knows how much we paid for a player. They do it in all other sports, and around the world, why shouldn’t we?”