Sporting Kansas City coach Peter Vermes has not been shy about his desire to improve his team’s midfield depth.
And on Tuesday, he took what is believed to be the first step toward doing so, as Sporting completed a trade that sends a first-round supplemental draft pick to Chivas USA for midfielder Paulo Nagamura.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Kansas City Star
“This guy is a two-way player, someone who can play holding midfield or play as a more attacking guy,” Vermes said. “And I love that I didn’t have to go outside the league to get him. He’s already adjusted to MLS.”
The 28-year old Brazilian – who has spent time with both the São Paulo FC and Arsenal systems – played with Chivas for the last five seasons, scoring nine goals in 99 appearances. Nagamura was limited last year with a foot injury, but Vermes is confident he’ll be full strength next season, when he is expected to push 33-year old Júlio César for his starting job in the midfield, though he can also play Graham Zusi’s and Roger Espinosa’s positions, as well.
“We’ll bring him back,” Vermes said of Nagamura. “It’s the fifth metatarsal in his foot. Guys have that injury all the time. Between our medical and training staff, I have no problem saying he will be stronger here than he was (with Chivas).”
Nagamura comes over a week after Sporting dealt midfielder Ryan Smith to Chivas for two 2012 supplemental draft picks. It’s unusual to see the same teams complete two separate trades with each other within a week’s time, but it’s worth noting that if Sporting had traded for Nagamura last week, it would have had to protect him in Wednesday’s MLS expansion draft or risk losing him.
Vermes, however, declined to go into specifics as it relates to this, but it stands to reason that by trading for Nagamura on Tuesday – and returning the higher of the two picks it acquired in the original deal it made with Chivas last week – Vermes not only got a player Vermes has been trying to acquire for years, he also got Chivas to protect him, which allowed Sporting to protect an additional player from a deep roster than it otherwise would have had to.
Regardless, Vermes sees the acquisition of Nagamura as a win for Kansas City. He said assistant Zoran Savic – who has coached him in the past – vouched for Nagamura’s competitiveness, and Vermes even sees him as a potential captain, which will need to be decided next season with the recent trade of team leader Davy Arnaud.
“Zoran coached Paulo and he knows him,” Vermes said. “A lot of people I talk to say he is a fierce competitor and wants to win everything. Paulo is going to fit in perfectly.”
Major League Soccer has not released its 2012 schedule yet, but the league announced the dates of the home openers for each team Tuesday.
The season begins on March 10, but Sporting will host its home opener on Saturday, March 17. Times and opponents will be released at a later date.
To reach Terez A. Paylor, sports reporter for The Star, call 816-234-4489 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.