Over the past several seasons, the Sporting Kansas City technical staff has had an ever-changing catalog of players participating in overseas leagues. The wish list, of sorts, is organized in the form of depth charts.
On Wednesday, Sporting KC plucked a name from the chart.
The club announced it has acquired winger Gerso Fernandes in a transfer deal from Portuguese club Belenenses and signed him to a designated player contract that will run through the 2019 season with an option for 2020.
The agreement was initially reported by The Star last month, when a source said Sporting KC has also reached an agreement in principle with Ghanaian winger Latif Blessing. The Blessing deal has not yet been announced by the team.
Fernandes, 25, has played the past five seasons in Portugal’s first division of soccer. He will occupy an international roster spot.
“He was on our depth chart for some time,” Sporting KC coach Peter Vermes said in a conference call. “The problem was (that) it was at a time when there was no way for us to do a deal. The timing became right, and we were able to get it done.”
Fernandes, a native of Guinea-Bissau in West Africa, is on the smaller side — he’s 5-8, 140 — but his speed could potentially add a dimension to the Sporting KC attack that was lacking last season. A left-foot dominant player, he can play on both sides of the attack.
He has started nine matches and made 14 appearances for Belenenses since the season opened in August, recording one goal and four assists. In Kansas City, he will be tasked to infuse creativity into an offense that has relied heavily on striker Dom Dwyer over the past three seasons.
“He’s definitely a guy (who) can be very dangerous in a lot of different ways,” Vermes said. “His major focus has not been scoring goals — a lot of it has been providing service. But I like to think guys on our team, they wind up getting a lot of chances. (The scoring) piece is something that will play itself out.”
Fernandes will be the fifth player on the Sporting KC roster who meets the requirement of a designated player or young designated player — athletes who make more than the maximum salary budget charge. Each team is allowed just three, but Sporting KC can use a couple of sources of funds to “buy down” salaries and abide by the rule. Those decisions do not have to be made until March.
On the roster construction, Vermes said, “We still have a couple of different players that we’re working on in different positions of the field.”
He added that he is content with his options at central defender with Matt Besler, Kevin Ellis, Ike Opara and Erik Palmer-Brown battling for two spots.