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Striker Nikola Vujnovic finally set to join Sporting KC

Arrival had been delayed by visa process
Vujnovic celebrate.jpeg
Posted at 12:42 PM, Mar 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-08 13:42:33-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Center forward Nikola Vujnovic is scheduled to arrive Tuesday evening and join Sporting Kansas City more than three weeks after the club announced his acquisition on loan.

Vujnovic, 25, is from Montenegro, but he had been playing for Serbian SuperLiga side Voždovac, which loaned him to Sporting KC for the 2022 season with an option to buy outright at the end of the season.

His arrival, which was announced Feb. 15, has been delayed as Vujnovic worked through the visa application process.

Sporting KC has already played two games — a Feb. 27 loss at Atlanta United and a March 5 win against Houston Dynamo FC in the home opener — which complicates the challenge of integrating Vujnovic into the lineup.

Don’t be shocked if Sporting KC Manager and Sporting Director Peter Vermes finds Vujnovic minutes late in games initially to try and get him acclimated to the club.

Vermes has used that tactic already with winger Marinos Tzionis, another late arrival who has subbed on for 26 minutes in the season’s first two games.

“I probably would have to just because they haven’t been here to get their feet wet,” Vermes said. “It’s not like I’m going to have a preseason to get them up and ready. I’m going to have to do it during the week, but I’m also going to have to be careful not to overload them so they’re not effective on the weekend. It’s going to have to be a little different way to bring those players into the team, for sure.”

If there’s good news, Vermes doesn’t believe the physical style of play in MLS, which can be markedly different from parts of Europe, will be a hurdle for Vujnovic.

He described the Serbian League as a “tough league,” which should help Vujnovic adjust quicker than some other players might.

“I see him as a guy that fits the way we play, and that’s the most important thing,” Vermes said. “If he can get the way we play, then the other stuff comes quickly.”

Sporting KC added Vujnovic to provide depth behind Khiry Shelton after announcing that starting center forward and Designated Player Alan Pulido would miss the season after a knee injury.