Alan Pulido: Nine things to know about Sporting’s new No. 9

Sporting Kansas City made a momentous offseason splash on Tuesday, acquiring 28-year-old Mexican striker Alan Pulido on a club-record transfer fee from Liga MX side C.D. Guadalajara.

Pulido, who joins Sporting as one of the most heralded signings in club history, boasts a decade of big-game experience, trophy-laden success and an overall track record that has Manager Peter Vermes believing he “embodies all of the attributes we value at our club.”

This, of course, begs the question: why should supporters be excited about Pulido’s arrival in Kansas City? What makes his addition to the squad such a big deal?

Frankly, there are more than a few reasons. Let’s dive into nine things you must know about Sporting’s new No. 9.

1. Mexico’s Reigning Scoring Champion

Pulido joins Sporting at the prime of his career, having finished tied atop the Liga MX scoring charts during the 2019 Apertura season. An imperious run of form between August and November yielded 12 goals, including four in his final three Chivas appearances last month. Pulido bagged a brace in his final game for Guadalajara on Nov. 24, sparking a 3-1 defeat of Veracruz.

2. Winning DNA

In previous spells with Mexico’s Tigres UANL (2009-2014), Greek giants Olympiacos (2015-16) and Chivas (2016-2019), Pulido never failed to win major trophies. He is a two-time Liga MX champion, a two-time Copa MX champion, a Super League Greece champion and a winner of the North American Super Liga and Concacaf Champions League.

3. Clutch When It Matters

With over 100 goals for club and country, Pulido’s attacking pedigree is undeniable. Even more enticing, however, is his knack for delivering when the stakes are highest. As a 20-year-old, Pulido scored in the second leg of the 2011 Liga MX Apertura Final as Tigres won its first league championship since 1982. He later scored in the 2014 Copa MX Clausura Final to lift Tigres over Oaxaca and finish as the tournament’s golden boot winner.

Then came his fruitful stint at Chivas, where he scored in both legs of the 2017 Liga MX Clausura Final to push Guadalajara to a 4-3 aggregate win over his former club Tigres. Most recently, his Goal of the Tournament in the first leg of the 2018 Concacaf Champions League Finals helped Chivas to a slender victory over Toronto FC and the club’s first continental championship since 1962.

4. Concacaf Player of the Year Finalist

Pulido enjoyed a banner year in 2018, capturing the Concacaf Champions League title and competing at the FIFA Club World Cup as Chivas’ leading goal scorer. He was duly recognized for his accomplishments when he was named a finalist for the 2018 Concacaf Player of the Year award.

5. Familiar with Children’s Mercy Park

As a member of the Mexico U-23s, Pulido hoisted the Concacaf Olympic Qualifying Tournament title at Children’s Mercy Park in April 2012. The semifinal and final matches both took place in Sporting’s home stadium as Pulido scored in a 3-1 semifinal victory over Canada.

6. Hat Trick on El Tri Debut

Pulido made his senior international debut on Jan. 29, 2014, scoring a hat-trick in a 4-0 friendly win against South Korea in San Antonio, Texas. He added another goal in a 2-2 friendly draw with the United States two months later, making a strong case for inclusion on Mexico’s 2014 FIFA World Cup squad.

7. World Cup Credentials

Standout performances for El Tri earlier in the year landed Pulido a spot on Mexico’s 23-man squad for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. At age 23, he was the third-youngest player on a roster assembled by mercurial head coach Miguel Herrera.

8. In the Mix for Mexico

Pulido has five goals in 13 career caps for Mexico’s senior team, most recently representing El Tri in a pair of friendlies against Uruguay and the United States in September 2018. With Pulido exploding as Liga MX’s top scorer this fall, he figures to be an attacking alternative for Mexico in 2020 competitions such as the Concacaf Nations League and 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying.

9. A Record Acquisition

To acquire Pulido, Sporting paid Chivas a club-record transfer fee and made the striker a Designated Player on a four-year contract through 2023. This investment is a clear indication that Vermes and the Sporting technical staff expect Pulido to be a major on-field contributor in 2020 and beyond.