Sporting Kansas City’s long wait to bring veteran defender Júlio César back into the fold has come to an end.
Team Coach Peter Vermes told The Star on Sunday that César, who had been absent from the team since mid-February while hammering out contract and immigration issues, has finalized a deal with the club and is currently in Kansas City.
“Getting his contract and his papers done has taken a long time,” Vermes said. “But in the end, we came to a great agreement.”
Since early January, Vermes has been working to sign César, who spent two weeks of training camp with the team before returning to Brazil in mid-February. According to Vermes said , the 32-year-old liked it here, but he just needed to return home to get his P-1 Visa, a requirement for non-citizens to work in this country.
And while the terms of the contract are unknown — Major League Soccer doesn’t release those figures to the public — one thing that is clear is the impact Vermes believes César can have on Sporting KC’s central defense, which remains a question mark heading into the team’s 2011 season opener on Saturday against Chivas USA.
“He’s very calculating — he knows when to step in and go into a challenge and he’s extremely calm on the ball, two things that are strong assets,” said Vermes, who added that César turned down offers from teams in Europe and Asia to come to Kansas City.
César’s experience is also indisputable. He’s played in a number of leagues all over the world the past 15 years, including the English Premier League and Mexican first division.
“He’s a seasoned veteran, for sure,” Vermes said.
One question mark that remains, however, is when César will be able to fully put that experience fully to use. He has missed Sporting Kansas City’s last month of training, after all, and Vermes admitted César is probably not a full 90 minutes fit, yet.
“I’m confident that here in the next month, he will be,” Vermes said. “The weather here right now will be good for him. When it’s a little cooler, it helps with fitness.”