Over the initial month of the Major League Soccer offseason, Sporting Kansas City quietly built depth within its roster — a reaction to the multitude of injuries that plagued the club over the stretch runs in both 2014 and 2015.
It made the first free-agency signing in MLS history with winger Justin Mapp; it traded for World Cup veteran Brad Davis; it brought back defensive midfielder Lawrence Olum; and it signed 19-year-old Daniel Salloi on Wednesday as the fourth homegrown player in franchise history.
Another wave of additions appears imminent.
Sporting KC coach and technical director Peter Vermes said Wednesday the club is nearing deals with “a few more players” as training camp approaches on Jan. 23 in Tucson, Ariz.
“I don’t want to talk about names or positions right now, because we’re still finalizing the documentation, but there will be more moves coming down the pike,” Vermes said during a phone interview from Baltimore, site of the MLS SuperDraft on Thursday.
Vermes expressed enthusiasm in the way his 2016 roster is taking shape, with the draft looming. Sporting KC owns the 11th overall pick, though Vermes said he is open to moving locations in a draft considered heavy on defenders and midfielders. Sporting KC is also slated to pick in the middle of the third and fourth rounds, which will be conducted via conference call Tuesday.
In what was initially thought to be a talent-short draft in 2015, Sporting KC added Connor Hallisey, Amadou Dia and Saad Abdul-Salaam, with the latter two defenders earning regular playing time late in the season.
After the addition of its new USL team, the Swope Park Rangers, slated to start play this year, Sporting KC has an avenue to further develop its draft picks before migrating them to the senior team.
That will represent the likely path for Salloi, the first homegrown signing since Lee’s Summit resident Erik Palmer-Brown inked his deal in 2013. Salloi, a native of Budapest, Hungary, attended Blue Valley Northwest last year after moving to the U.S. as an exchange student in August 2014. He played for the Sporting Kansas City under-18 team for the 2014-2015 season and scored 21 goals in 28 games before returning to Hungary for a six-month spell with Ujpest FC, a 20-time champion in Hungary’s first division.
“He has a lot of potential,” Vermes said. “One of the things I appreciated when he was in the academy is how fast he adapted and adjusted to the team and, at the same time, how easy he was to work with. He’s had a great attitude. I think all of those things will be a big help to him trying to get on the field as much as possible.”
▪ On Wednesday, the Swope Park Rangers announced the additions of Nikola Popovic as an assistant coach and Alec Dufty as a goalkeeper coach.
The pair help head coach Marc Dos Santos round out the team’s technical staff.