Jerome adds depth to Sporting KC's already strong backline
Two days after signing with Sporting Kansas City, Mechack Jerome made his MLS debut. Two weeks after that, the young Haitian right back was in the Starting XI.
He's likely to be there again on Saturday, when Sporting visit New England for the Revs' home opener. Chance Myers is listed as questionable, after missing last week's scoreless draw against Chicago with a nagging quad strain, and Sporting are unlikely to risk rushing him back for a game on turf.
“I still have things I need to do,” Jerome told MLSsoccer.com on Wednesday. “I don't know if the coach will start me for this game, but I am ready and working toward that.”
Given manager Peter Vermes' predilection for easing MLS newcomers into the league and his club, Jerome's progress looks unusually quick at first glance. But Jerome, signed from Orlando City SC – Sporting's new USL Pro affiliate – is no overnight success story.
He spent the entire preseason with Sporting, starting all of their games in the Disney Pro Soccer Classic. And Jerome has been on Vermes' radar since 2012, even before his solid performance against Sporting in Kansas City's 3-2 U.S. Open Cup victory over the Lions.
“We saw him a year and a half ago,” Vermes said on Wednesday, during the team's weekly news conference. “Some other team tried to sign him through the discovery process. It didn't work out for them – never really escalated to the point where it could happen. We were second in line. They took him off their discovery list and we came in.”
It's unusual to find a ready-made MLS starter in the third tier of American pro soccer, Vermes said.
“It's not easy,” he told MLSsoccer.com on Tuesday. “But he's a gamer. You stick him in, and he doesn't lack any confidence anywhere. He's like, 'Give it to me. I'm going to do this and this and that.' Whatever he did, it looked like that's what he wanted to do.”
In his first start, Saturday's scoreless home draw against Chicago, Jerome showed himself both tenacious on defense and not afraid to improvise on the attack, as when he flipped the ball back over his own head while pinned against the sideline.
“He did awesome,” said Myers, who aggravated the strain two weeks ago in Sporting's 2-1 loss at Toronto FC. “Everything that was asked of him, he did it. He perfected the position in that game. He helped keep the ball, he got forward and he defended well when we lost it.”
Jerome's strength and athleticism and Myers' technical prowess will give Vermes solid tactical options when both are healthy – and that's especially important with Sporting taking part in the CONCACAF Champions League as well as MLS and Cup play.
“Absolutely,” Myers said. “Competition's always good within the squad, and we've got a lot of competitions this year. We're going to need everybody to be performing well.”