Thursday, December 22, 2016

Sporting Negotiating with Three Players, Including Former KC Defender, Juliao

Sporting KC could potentially have a familiar face return to the team in 2017, Sam McDowell had news today on a trio of players that Sporting KC is chasing, one of which is former Sporting KC defender, Igor Juliao. The Brazilian outside back spent the 2014 season on loan with Sporting KC from Brazilian side Fluminense as really the only tangible part of the partnership the two clubs agreed to just before the loan.

Juliao, at the time just 19 was forced into a starting job for Sporting KC early in the season as Sporting went through a major injury crisis on the back line that included losing starter, Chance Myers for the season to a ruptured Achilles. Taking over for Myers, Juliao made 23 appearances for KC in league play and added another three appearances in the CONCACAF Champions League. Since returning to Fluminense, Juliao has spent time on loan with three other Brazilian sides but has recently been making the bench for them since returning from a loan with Ferroviaria. Reports out of Brazil are saying that the deal is done, and the move will be a one year loan for Juliao who is still under contract to Fluminense through 2018.

For me, Juliao was a good attacking outside back, something that is needed in KC's system, but defensively he caused a number of issues for KC's back line. With Aurelien Collin as the right center back next to Juliao, Collin got pulled out wide to help cover for the hole Juliao left when he pushed forward many times. Doing so left a gap between Collin and Matt Besler, or Besler and Seth Sinovic that often got exploited by opposing teams. Coming back to KC though and with Saad Abdul-Salaam seemingly having established himself as KC's starting right back, Juliao would seem to be set to be his back up as the Chance Myers' era in KC looks done.

The other two players that Sporting is reportedly negotiating with are two players who have been previously linked in foreign media with a move to KC, Gerso Fernandes and Latif Blessing. Both players are wingers, Fernandes currently plays in Portugal with Belenenses, the same club as Oriol Rosell currently, a pacey winger would seem to be the highest profile of the three players that KC is currently talking to at this time. With Blessing, KC gets a younger player, about to turn 20, who I'd figured would have been a good fit for the Swope Park Rangers. There's still a chance he does spend some time there, but the golden boot winner and MVP of the Ghanaian league will provide more pace up top for Kansas City.

More than anything what these three players represent is exactly what Peter Vermes has talked about doing with the team this offseason, getting them younger and faster. It's been a long time since KC had real speed on the wings, something that would actually allow Sporting to be dangerous on the counter. Speed is also something that KC could use to break down teams. The question still will be finishing, and someone that can complement Dom Dwyer in the goals department. Fernandes has never really been a goal scorer in his career, and while Blessing is, there are certainly fair questions to ask about his ability to step up from the Ghanaian league to MLS.