Two days after Sporting Kansas City acquired Jalil Anibaba as a potential successor to defender Aurelien Collin, it signed its newest acquisition to a contract extension. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, per league policy.
Sporting KC secured Anibaba, 26, from Orlando City SC to complete a trade for Collin made earlier in the week. Orlando selected Anibaba in the third round of the MLS Expansion Draft on Wednesday before flipping him to Kansas City.
“I was really excited. I’ve always been curious what it would be like to play for Peter Vermes,” Anibaba said. “I love his intensity. I love his drive and dedication. He wears his heart on his sleeve, and I think I can definitely relate to that and feel I have similar qualities in my personality.”
At the very least, Anibaba immediately improves the depth of a club that was riddled with injuries in its defense last season. He has made 112 appearances across four MLS seasons, including 14 starts with the Seattle Sounders in 2014.
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He said he is most comfortable playing in the center of the back line — and Collin’s departure opens up a spot alongside captain Matt Besler — but Anibaba has played all four defensive spots in his career.
Vermes said earlier this week that central defender Ike Opara will be ready for the start of preseason after he suffered a chondral defect in his right ankle last April, an injury that cost him the rest of the season.
Anibaba has already spoken to Opara about joining Sporting KC and called him a close friend. The two could compete for playing time in 2015, though Vermes doesn’t appear to be finished adding to his roster.
“That’s what this profession is all about. It’s all about competing in all aspects — on the training pitching, on the game pitch, even within the locker room,” Anibaba said. “I think earning from his experiences will definitely pay dividends for sure.”