When Gianluca Busio was transferred to Venezia FC in the Italian first division in the middle of the Major League Soccer season, part of the fanbase simply did not understand. How can you sell one of your best players when you claim to win several trophies (Supporter’s Shield, MLS Cup)?
Well… football is weird. It’s not like the other big American sports that many of those same fans grew up with. In baseball, as the playoffs approach, contenders make big trades in an attempt to solidify their rosters while out-of-the-way teams hold a sellout in an attempt to secure assets for years to come. This is also true in the NBA and NHL. The NFL, less. But in none of these leagues, if you have a hot young prospect, do you fire them when they’re 19. It’s just different in MLS.
Currently, MLS is not the best soccer league in the world, unlike the other US leagues listed above, which are. MLS commissioner Don Garber has said that MLS needs to become a sales league, and that’s exactly what’s happening. Big prospects like Alphonso Davies, Brendan Aaronson and Bryan Reynolds have all been sold in recent years for big bucks. Money that MLS teams can turn and invest in finding more young prospects, upgrading their facilities, or even buying current stars.
That’s exactly what Sporting Kansas City is planning. In an interview with Soren Petro on The Program on 810 WHB, SKC head coach and sporting director Peter Vermes laid out that plan.
He confirmed that the property has the option of just pocketing the money, but that was never the plan and it won’t be the plan with the funds (apparently up to $11 million with a selling fee of 20%) of this sale. Vermes was very outspoken that ownership was his and he could spend it on facilities or players and he said they already had world-class facilities so it would be spent on players.
These players will not arrive quietly yet.
“We looked at different options for the winter window,” Vermes began. “What we didn’t want to do is all of a sudden we see this money from [Busio] and be in this mad rush to spend it and do it responsibly.
If that was the only answer to the question, it would seem incomplete. It would sound like something we’ve heard before. PV has the directive to spend, but often just doesn’t. But he went much deeper into the details.
“We definitely have ideas of what we want to do and how we want to do it,” Vermes continued. “We also have our second team where we could invest money there in younger players, 18-19, give them a few years with the second team. As they cut their teeth there, so when they can make the jump to the first team, now we already have these players in our system and they’ve already kind of learned culturally, and the playing model and all these things.
Buy players for the second team? It’s new! Can USL teams spend a lot on transfer fees? Do USL rules matter with Sporting KC II ready to move to a new MLS third division? There are certainly rules against bringing them to your second team and loaning them to the MLS team, but developing them in the 4-3-3 and training with the first team for a year or two before moving up, could calm the pipeline. However they do, they reinvest in the team.
“What’s great is that our ownership group has said they’re going to continue to reinvest that money into what we call the Sporting Player Enterprise,” Vermes said.
sports player company. This is new terminology to remember. Petro pushed him to try to get a name or two.
“From our player personnel department to our scouting department to player recruiting…we have what we call a shadow team,” Vermes replied. “It’s basically in our system, you know we play 4-3-3, we have players in every position and I’m talking about all over the world. We have them for the first team, it would be players over 22, we have players who would fit into this list of young DPs (he was actually talking about the U-22 initiative based on other comments in the interview).
“And then we have the second team, the same idea, all of these positions as they play the same formation as the first team. We have what we call a depth chart of players around the world that we would be interested in.
“Some of them are very specific, in terms of you know we need that position next year. So do we want to spend the money in that position or do we want to spend the lion’s share of your money on a central defender or a left winger or a number 10. Do we have any names? Absolutely. Have we set out to try to get these things done? For sure. We have to be ahead of the window rather than just working in that window. That’s one of the reasons the idea was to use those funds in the next winter window.
Hearing Vermes go into the level of detail he told Petro is quite interesting. Every once in a while, he just decides to share a little secret. Of course, we’ll never get the names of the players they’re looking for, but there’s clearly a detailed plan in place. Now it’s just about convincing players to come to Kansas City. If only PV could share so many details about his replacement grounds.
Some other information
- Throughout the interview, PV calls it the new Youth DP initiative, but it is the U-22 initiative. He’s not technically a Designated Player, but an unlimited transfer fee can be spent. The “Young DP” is something else, as they can be over 22 and meet these criteria.
- Asked about the next sale, he said he wanted to wait for the teams to come and see him and there were no plans to sell some players. It works better financially if they wait.
- Busio’s move was like a ‘full-time job’, there was so much demand for him.
- PV confirmed his deal runs until December 2023 when asked what’s next and he replied, “we’ll see”. It’s hard to imagine him training anywhere else.