KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Sporting Kansas City is less than three weeks from its 2022 MLS regular-season opener, but the roster isn’t set yet.
Manager and Sporting Director Peter Vermes said Wednesday that Sporting KC is “very, very close to signing a forward” and plans to announce the addition of a new striker “early next week,” pending approval from the MLS.
“We need another person, for sure,” Vermes said last week when asked about the club’s center-forward situation. “We can’t just rely on one guy the whole season, so we’re searching for one more. I expect something to happen. Timing is always an issue.”
Veteran Khiry Shelton is an ideal center forward for Vermes’ system, he said, but he needs help up top after Alan Pulido, the most expensive signing in Sporting KC history and a former Liga MX Golden Boot winner, underwent “a microfracture-type knee surgery” last month and will miss the 2022 season.
Vermes has been adamant that the club is not replacing Pulido, which would be something of a mission impossible at this stage, but Sporting KC’s aim isn’t to replace Shelton either.
“I’m not bringing in someone to replace Khiry,” Vermes said. “Khiry is the guy, and he’s playing at a very high level at the moment. He’s incredibly committed and understands the role that he is playing within the team. He’s been tremendous thus far. I can’t say enough about him.”
Left winger Dániel Sallói also can slide to center forward in a pinch, if needed, but the new player — who Vermes and the club have not publicly identified — will bring additional versatility to the position.
“The player that we’re working with right now has a little different skill set than, say, Khiry,” Vermes said. “So, that’s good. I want us to be able to sometimes play, either a game or within one game, play two different ways at times and give something different to the position. The other thing is both those guys could play at the same time as well, if you wanted to tweak the formation.”
Sporting KC opens the regular season Feb. 27 at the Atlanta United. The club hosts Houston, which is coached by former SKC player and coach Paula Nagamura, on March 5 in the home opener.