KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Needing to bolster its front line after Alan Pulido’s injury, Sporting Kansas City announced the addition of a 25-year-old striker from the top division in Serbia.
Nikola Vujnovic, who is from Montenegro and will wear No. 19, has been acquired on a season-long loan from Voždovac in the Serbian SuperLiga.
Sporting KC has an option to buy Vujnovic outright at the end of the 2022 MLS season, according to a release Tuesday from the club.
Vujnovic, who will occupy an international roster spot, has 10 goals in 21 appearances this season, which ranks fourth in the Serbian SuperLiga.
Sporting KC Manager and Sporting Director Peter Vermes teased the signing last week.
The 5-foot-10 Vujnovic has the speed to threaten defenses when balls are played over the top and is a deft finisher in the box, displaying poise and calm on the ball.
Vujnovic isn’t afraid to take on defenders with the ball at his feet and has enough power to beat goalkeepers from distance. He’s also savvy enough to poach some goals at the back post or off deflections and can put away chances with his head.
Prior to his time with Voždovac, he previously played professionally in his native Montenegro and as a teenager with La Liga club Villareal’s B and C teams in Spain.
Vujnovic has been a fixture on Montenegro’s junior national teams since 2013 and made his debut with the senior national team in October 2020.
Among his five matches for the Montenegrin National Team, three of Vujnovic’s appearances have come in World Cup qualifiers, including a goal in November 2021 against the Netherlands during a 2-2 draw.
Pulido, a former Liga MX scoring champion from Mexico, is expected to miss the 2022 season after knee surgery in January.
Vujnovic joins Khiry Shelton as a center forward.
Left winger Dániel Sallói also could provide depth in the middle, if needed, while Johnny Russell returns at right winger.
For depth at the forward spot, Sporting KC also acquired Marinos Tzionis via transfer.
The club had recalled another forward, Tyler Freeman, from his loan before the season, but he and Grayson Barber were waived Monday night. Developmental forward Grayson Barber also was waived.
Sporting KC roster breakdown
Goalkeepers: Veteran Tim Melia brings stability in goal
Defense: Defensive depth gets churn for 2022
Midfield: Defensive MF Uri Rosell returns to anchor midfield
Forwards: Sallói, Russell must shine again up top
The sister station of KSHB 41 — 38 the Spot, KCMI-TV — now serves as Sporting KC’s exclusive local television broadcast partner with all 26 locally televised matches available free and over-the-air, without the need for a paid subscription.