On Wednesday morning, the Sporting Kansas City technical and coaching staffs will implement the final touches on a gameplan for the U.S. Open Cup semifinals later in the day.
It’s an immediate and obvious focal point Wednesday, when Sporting KC will host San Jose at 7:30 p.m. But it’s not the only one. Just as prominent, the clock on the MLS transfer window has ticked under 24 hours before closure.
Sporting Kansas City doesn’t appear desperate to make a significant change before the deadline. But multiple possibilities — a reunion with forward Krisztian Nemeth among them — remain in play.
Sporting KC coach Peter Vermes was tight-lipped on the topic Tuesday. When asked about Nemeth and other potential additions, he simply said, “We are still in the market for all of the above,” declining when pressed for specifics.
Here’s the reality: Sporting KC would have to clear a handful of obstacles to bring Nemeth back to Kansas City, where he scored 10 MLS goals in 2015.
As documented by The Star last month, Nemeth, 28, remains in talks with his current club, Qatar’s Al-Gharafa, about his buyout clause. He has no plans to return to MLS before that situation has reached a resolution. As of Tuesday afternoon, those discussions were ongoing.
Sporting KC would also have to make a trade with Columbus for the top spot in the allocation rankings because Nemeth will be required to go through the allocation process if he wants to rejoin MLS. To date, Sporting KC is unwilling to meet Columbus’ asking price for the spot.
Even if those two hurdles are cleared before end of business Wednesday, Sporting KC would still have to work out a contract agreement with Nemeth.
If there is urgency inside the Sporting KC offices to make all of that happen before the transfer window closes, it’s not readily apparent. Rather, the club looks to be comfortable waiting until the winter transfer window to revisit the situation with Nemeth, who has not played a competitive match since March 2.
Agree with them or not, Vermes and his staff believe they have an offense that is good enough to win now — even after trading striker Dom Dwyer to Orlando City SC last month — particularly when it is coupled with the league’s best defense. A three-goal output against Chicago, the first match without Dwyer, further cemented that belief. Several players have vocally backed the opinion, with captain Matt Besler calling the match against Chicago, “some of the best (offensive) stuff we’ve had all season.”
Diego Rubio offers a more possession-oriented striker than Dwyer for a club intent on keeping the ball. But if Sporting KC goes without an outside acquisition this summer, its depth will be tested. It already has been. Rubio, who is still only 10 months removed from ACL surgery, sat out Sunday’s draw against Atlanta United FC, presumably because tasking him with two starts in a four-day span would be a stretch. Latif Blessing started atop the Sporting KC formation. The team managed three shots on goal.
After a date with San Jose on Wednesday with a trip to the Open Cup championship on the line, Sporting KC will make a trip to Seattle. The lineup will likely fluctuate once again.
“I tell (the players) that everybody at some point is going to have to make a contribution at some point or another,” Vermes said.