The secondary transfer window for MLS opened today for the month of July and will close on August 3rd. With the window open teams can now acquire players via MLS trade, via transfer if the player is still under contract with another club, or by signing a player that became out of contract since the league's primary window closed. The third is how Sporting has made their first addition this window, bringing in Honduran left back Ever Alvarado.
This should prove to be an interesting transfer window for Kansas City as the club has really not been in this sort of situation since the club rebranded before the 2011 season. For the most part Vermes has used the summer window as a way to bring in players that may contribute some over the course of the rest of the season, but is an addition that is more looking towards the next year. This year though Vermes is going to have to go about it a little differently. While KC has had deficiencies in the past, when the transfer window has opened previously, KC has been in a strong position in league play that hasn't required them to use the summer window to acquire "game changers." Since the rebranding, KC has been looking to just fill a few gaps in the lineup.
Since the rebranding in 2011 the only time that KC has had fewer than the 25 points they have in 2016 through 19 games was in 2011 when KC had 23 points and were 5-6-8 with a schedule that had them play on the road just three times in their final 15 games. KC doesn't have the luxury of the home heavy schedule down the stretch this year and will need to adjust their plans accordingly. In 2011 when KC was behind in the table, even with the home heavy schedule they did make a number of additions, with some being towards the future while others were to help the team that year. KC brought in a designated player, Brazilian, Jeferson, on loan, and while he didn't work out, the effort was there to try to improve the team and get them back into the race for MLS Cup. KC also brought in Daneil Cyrus on loan who looked decent before an injury ended his season. KC's other three additions were for the future with Peterson Joseph and Lawrence Olum being signed and playing little while Soony Saad was acquired via a weighted lottery.
In 2012 through 19 games, KC already had 36 points with an 11-5-3 record and really didn't have the need to acquire much of anything in the summer transfer window. The club acquired just three players, Neven Markovic, who was brought in as defensive depth and made just two appearances for the club, Scott Angevine, who was mainly brought in to be available for a friendly, and Oriol Rosell, who despite starting the club's final playoff game against Houston, appeared just five times in league play and was seen as a player for the future when he was signed.
In 2013 Sporting was again in a fairly comfortable position in table position, having earned 30 points through their first 19 games, with a record of 8-5-6. On their way to MLS Cup that year Kansas City once again didn't make any dramatic additions to the team, signing mainly for future growth and depth. KC signed their third homegrown player, Erik Palmer-Brown, brought in Jimmy Medranda on loan, signed Brendan Ruiz, and right before the roster freeze signed Federico Bessone. Of those four players, only one played at all in 2013, and that was Medranda, who made a one minute cameo appearance when KC defeated the Columbus Crew 3-0.
While the second half of the 2014 season didn't go very well for Kansas City, they were actually in a better position through 19 games than they were in their MLS Cup winning season in 2013. The team had won 32 points with a 9-5-5 record through their first 19 games. This is the one season that breaks away from the pattern that Peter Vermes has followed in the past with additions. KC brought in three players, the biggest of those signings being Jorge Claros, a player that Vermes had been chasing for a while. Claros ended up playing in seven games, starting four of them and missed the final three regular season games due to a suspension. His addition was a long term play for Vermes as the club had been looking to replace Roger Espinoza since he left after the 2012 season, unfortunately that move didn't pay off. KC's other two summer signings that year were Michael Kafari and Martin Steuble, with Steuble being the only one to play a game for Kansas City, appearing twice.
Last year Sporting had again gotten out to a strong start and by the 19th game were considered a leading candidate for the Supporter's Shield and MLS Cup, KC had 33 points and a 9-4-6 record up to that point of the season. Again a poor second half of the season not helped by key injuries limited Kansas City to just their US Open Cup run. KC just made two additions over the summer in 2015, bringing in Amobi Okugo via a trade and signing Jordi Quintilla in the hopes of getting another Barcelona product success the same way they did with Rosell. Unfortunately Okugo, who most fans hoped would see time at center back where he'd been successful, played just three times for KC, all in the midfield and was gone during preseason. Quintilla made eight appearances last year in league play and also added the winning goal in the penalty shootout in the Open Cup, but was gone in June.
While it's certainly not exact, especially when you hear Robb Heineman throw out names like Marko Marin during pregame interviews, there is certainly a pattern of Kansas City using the summer window less when they are playing well, even with injury issues. The past two years injuries on the back line have made a center back seem like a logical summer addition but KC has never gone that route. The question now is whether Sporting will be more aggressive in the window this year with the team struggling. Vermes has said in the past that he prefers the winter window for acquiring players because those brought in during the summer have to get themselves up to speed and fitness for Vermes' system and that takes too long with a mid-summer signing for Vermes.
The addition of Alvardo would seem to point to at least a little more activity, as KC looks to shore up their defense with an international player, something KC has only done one other time in the summer since 2011, and that's when they grabbed Claros. It's an area of the field that hasn't been horrible for KC, but needed an upgrade over the committee that has been playing there this season with Medranda, Amadou Dia, and Seth Sinovic all having shifts at left back.
At this point, KC has three roster spots left open after the signing of Alvarado and waiving of Quintilla. It also keeps Kansas City with five of their international roster spots filled at this time. With Diego Rubio's loan extended the team said that he no longer occupies a young DP slot, which would open a slot back up for the team to use this summer if they want to.
For anyone that has watched Sporting this year, it's obvious where the biggest hole is for the team, it's in chance creation coming from the wing. While Brad Davis has scored three goals across all competitions, that's not the main reason he was brought in, he was brought in for his assists (which he has not recorded one of for Sporting since being acquired). Vermes has tried to keep the cutting in ability that worked so well with Krisztian Nemeth last year by inverting his wingers, playing Davis and Graham Zusi on their opposite wing so they'll be cutting in on their dominate foot, but it's not coming close to matching the threat that Nemeth posed for KC. Sporting isn't going to come back and find a straight replacement for Nemeth, but Sporting has to do something to look like a more serious goal scoring threat from other positions. Right now the goal scoring is very one dimensional in trying to get Dwyer the ball. KC is too reliant on crosses into the box for a 5'9" forward, who while good in the air is going to be handled much of the time by bigger center backs. The players that Vermes has brought in haven't panned out exactly as planned with the likes of Justin Mapp having not even played 30 minutes by this point of the season. At the same time returning players like Connor Hallisey and Jacob Peterson have been unable to fill the gap on the wings with any regularity, while people wait for the Zusi that plays with the national team to regularly show up for Sporting (like Sunday).
This will be an interesting summer window for KC, by no means do I think Vermes' job is in jeopardy at this point, but continued struggles this year and not addressing needs will make his seat hotter.