For the past year or more, Sporting Kansas City have been looking for a serious scoring threat up top to help take some of the pressure off center forward Dom Dwyer. Have they found it in pacey left winger Gerso Fernandes, their new Designated Player?
Maybe, maybe not. The 25-year-old Fernandes has been more of a provider than a finisher in Portugal; his stats this season with Primeira Liga side CF Os Belenenses (one goal and five assists across all competitions) are not out of line with the rest of his career.
Still, manager Peter Vermes said during a conference call on Wednesday that he expects the Guinea-Bissau native to take some cracks at the net in MLS.
“He's definitely a guy that can be very dangerous in a lot of different ways,” Vermes said. “His major focus has not been scoring goals. A lot of it has been providing service. So we'll see. Time will tell. But I like to think that guys on our team wind up getting a lot of chances. And so that piece is something that'll have to play itself out.”
Sporting have had the versatile, left-footed Fernandes on their wish list since before the 2015 season, Vermes said, after assistant coach Kerry Zavagnin and the club's scout in Portugal identified him as a transfer target.
“We saw him live a couple of times,” Vermes said. “We have a scout that has probably seen him – oh, my gosh, probably 50 times. So we've seen the guy quite often.”
Signing Fernandes would have to wait, though, as Sporting and Belenenses couldn't make a deal work for two more MLS seasons.
“He was on our depth chart for some time,” Vermes said. “The problem was that, at the time, there was just no way for us to do a deal. And so the timing became right and we were able to get it done.”
The transfer fee – which was not disclosed when Fernandez's deal was announced on Wednesday – wasn't the only sticking point.
“That's part of it,” Vermes said. “There's a couple of different things that go with it. The transfer fee, yes, as you know, that's always a difficulty in our league. But more important is the timing of it, with our salary cap and everything else, to be able do this as well – and also the price.”
Now that Fernandes' services have been secured, Vermes is expecting good things from Sporting's newest DP.
“He can play both left- and right-side winger,” Vermes said. “He's a very dynamic player. He's good 1-vs.-1. He's a good server of the ball and good in combination play. Hopefully he can add some more attacking power to our team.”