As the bid for a spot in the U.S. Open Cup championship neared its conclusion Wednesday at Children’s Mercy Park — with Sporting Kansas City ultimately defeating San Jose in a shootout — the final hours of the MLS transfer window evaporated.
But not before a significant move.
The New England Revolution acquired former Sporting KC forward Krisztian Nemeth from Columbus in exchange for $400,000 in allocation money.
Sporting KC previously made an offer to trade for Nemeth’s rights.
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“I’m surprised at the amount of money that was exchanged for the position, being that it was this late in the transfer window,” Sporting KC coach Peter Vermes said Thursday.
Vermes declined to reveal the exact offer Sporting KC extended Columbus to try to secure the rights to Nemeth, other than to say it also centered around allocation money. But a source told The Star it did not approach the $400,000 offer from New England. The negotiations between Sporting KC and Columbus stalled Monday, after it became apparent Sporting KC did not plan to improve its offer, the source said.
While Sporting KC would have liked to acquire its former forward, who scored 10 MLS goals in Kansas City in 2015, the club’s lack of urgency appeared to be multi-faceted.
It was unsure of the immediate impact Nemeth could make in 2017 and structured its offer to encompass that concern. Nemeth hasn’t played a competitive match since March 2, and getting him up to speed might or might not require time.
That answer settles in New England. And it leaves Sporting KC marching forward with its current front line until season’s end. Without Nemeth. And without striker Dom Dwyer, who was dealt to Orlando City SC in a trade last month.
Diego Rubio, Latif Blessing, and Gerso Fernandes have emerged as the attacking starters in Kansas City, with Daniel Salloi pressing for more time. That group has drawn consistent praise from Vermes over the past few weeks — which could be deciphered either as an attempt to instill confidence or a statement that he believes the club didn’t need outside help. Vermes’ unwillingness to budge in a deal to acquire Nemeth — despite possessing plenty of allocation funds after the trade with Dwyer — suggests it’s most likely the latter.
The next four months will determine that position’s validity. Sporting KC sits atop the Western Conference standings and will play for the Open Cup title on Sept. 20, but much of the season’s success will be resolved in the MLS playoffs, where Sporting KC has not won since 2013.
The funds will carry into the winter. Sporting KC acquired up to $1.6 million in allocation money in trading Dwyer. That money must be spent, or it’s forfeited to the league. In other words, it can’t simply be pocketed by the team.
The search for an additional attacking option that fell short this summer will now carry into the winter, with the club equipped with the financial resources to make a move.