By TATE STEINLAGE
Sporting Kansas City announced Tuesday that it has waived 31-year-old defender Josh Gardner to free up a roster spot for a prospective international signing that manager Peter Vermes hopes to ink this week.
“We’ve been working on a few players for quite some time,” Vermes told SB Nation. “We haven’t been able to fit the roster together the way we wanted to in certain situations. Negotiations just crept along slowly, that happens sometimes. The good thing is because of the extension of our window is longer, it gives us a chance to work on those guys and it kind of takes competitors out of the way.”
Vermes gave no mention of who the international player is, but if Sporting Club’s official Euphoria mobile app is any indication, it looks like it will be 19-year-old Fluminense FC defender Igor Juliao. The app had Juliao’s name listed on the roster before being taken down earlier this week.
Sporting KC, Vermes had a good look at the Brazilian earlier this year in the preseason Walt Disney Pro Soccer Classic tournament in Orlando, Fla., where Sporting KC beat the Fluminense FC U-23 squad 3-0.
Vermes also mentioned the club is eyeing potential deals with two defenders and a midfielder before the May 12 transfer window closes.
Here are more Sporting Kansas City notes:
ZUSI, BESLER CALLED UP FOR USMNT, MEXICO FRIENDLY
Midfielder Graham Zusi and defender Matt Besler will have a quick turnaround this weekend following Sporting KC’s regular season MLS match against the Colorado Rapids. Both players were called up Wednesday to join the USMNT for the April 2 friendly against Mexico in Glendale, Ariz.
“This is an important game for us,” Besler said. “Most guys are making cases for themselves to make the roster, but I think more important, as a team, we are trying to make a case for ourselves to learn how to play better with each other and get that chemistry.”
The news comes almost exactly one year after Besler earned his first cap with the USMNT in a 0-0 draw World Cup qualifier against Mexico at Estadio Azteca. The 27-year-old is now eyeing his 14th cap with the national squad, and is almost certain to make the World Cup team.
“San Zusi,” as the midfielder is known as among Mexican soccer fans thanks to his late-game goal against Panama that landed Mexico in a playoff to get into the World Cup, is also a likely lock to be on the plane to Brazil. An appearance in the April 2 friendly will mark Zusi’s 20th USMNT cap.
“It’s one of our big rivals,” Zusi said about the upcoming match. “It’s another big test before the World Cup, so any opportunity where we can get on the field together is an opportunity to get better as a team.”
The two players are expected to rejoin Sporting KC before the club’s April 5 home match against Real Salt Lake.
SPORTING KC SET TO FACE TOUGH TEST IN COLORADO
Sporting KC (1-1-1) return to MLS action Saturday against the Colorado Rapids (1-0-1) after its first mid-week break since the start of the season.
“Colorado is a team that has gotten a couple really good results so far against good teams,” Sporting KC midfielder Graham Zusi said Thursday. “They’ve got a mixture of youth and veteran leadership. They’re a team that is more free-flowing, they just go out there and play. They don’t have a whole lot of method to their madness, but they’re dangerous.”
The Rapids are coming off an impressive 2-0 victory over the Portland Timbers at home this past weekend, capped off by penalty kicks following separate shoddy attempts from two different Portland goalkeepers.
Sporting KC captured its first league victory Saturday in similar fashion, a lone Dom Dwyer penalty kick. However, the defending MLS Cup champions are still looking for their first goal in MLS action from a forward in the run of play. Prior to Dwyer’s score, the only other Sporting KC goal came from defender Aurelien Collin against FC Dallas in a 1-1 draw on March 15.
Sporting KC and the Colorado Rapids kick off from Dicks Sporting Goods Park at 6 p.m. ET.
OTHER NEWS AND NUGGETS:
- Josh Gardner appeared in nine MLS matches, three CONCACAF Champions League games and two U.S. Open Cup fixtures for Sporting Kansas City since joining the club in December 2012 after a short stint with the Montreal Impact.
- Over 700 Sporting KC supporters are expected to make the nine-plus hour drive to Denver, Colo. for Saturday’s match against the Rapids, according to the club earlier this week.
- Sporting KC defender Chance Myers is still listed as questionable for Saturday’s match with a groin strain. Myers trained with the team in full Thursday for the first time since picking up the injury in preseason.
Was waiving Josh Gardner good for Sporting KC? Is another international singing good for the team based on its track record with foreign players? How do Sporting KC and the Rapids stack up? Let us know in the comments below.