Then there’s the issue of broader generational renewal in Kansas City. The core of the squad that has won an MLS Cup, thrived in the Open Cup and even made waves in the Concacaf Champions League has aged. According to Transfermarkt, Sporting have fielded seven of the ten oldest starting line-ups in MLS so far this season and mobility has been an issue in key areas of the pitch.
A carefully constructed, long-term, academy-run player development project has garnered praise but has yet to produce reliable contributors on the scale of comparable peers like FC Dallas and the Philadelphia Union. As aggressively as SKC have scouted both regionally and nationally, finding talent like USMNT midfielder Gianluca Busio (sold to Italy’s Venezia last summer) and current Charlotte FC full-back Jaylin Lindsey, their homegrown pipeline still doesn’t have what they want reached a level of persistence. and Vermes cites the realities imposed by the MLS system on native catchments.
“No. No I haven’t,” he said when asked if he thinks the company is on track. “Infrastructure, people and everything around is great. The difference is that we just don’t have fertility [homegrown] Area. And so is the fact that at first we’re really locked in by our territory and then we’re not able to go into the most fertile areas, which are pretty much the east and west coasts. It doesn’t allow us to access a larger pool of players.
“I firmly believe that this has to change. If it was up to me, I would say just open up the territories fully and let everyone fend for themselves like most people do in the rest of the world.”
This idea is shared by several other development-oriented clubs. Despite ongoing difficulties in reaching broader agreement on adjustments to the regulations, Vermes remains hopeful of change.
“Probably half the teams in the league would say, ‘Hey, let’s open everything.’ And the other half said, ‘I don’t want anybody to come to my area because I have all these kids now,'” he said.
“There’s a ton of kids on the east and west coasts,” Vermes claimed. “There is more than enough for everyone to participate. And I think the goal is [to] Get the best kids into the MLS academies and let’s take it from there. And I’m here to say that I don’t necessarily think we do that everywhere.”