Sporting striker Alan Pulido speaks to media at Children's Mercy Park: "I’ve never seen such a specialized and organized club"

Sporting Kansas City hosted a press conference with newly acquired striker Alan Pulido and Manager and Sporting Director Peter Vermes today inside the Interview Room at Children's Mercy Park. Their full remarks are transcribed below, with Pulido’s quotes provided by a Spanish interpreter.


Forward Alan Pulido

On his thoughts of joining Sporting Kansas City and MLS…

It’s obviously a great challenge and I’m very happy to be here. The expectations are very big and there is a lot to be expected out of me. However, it’s a big dream for me to be here. It’s a new challenge and my expectation for myself is to fight for those top places and hope to bring Sporting to its former glory. The last point is showing that my talent in the past—in what I have brought to the team—I can continue to bring that here and meet those expectations that were placed on me.

On his emotions arriving to Kansas City…

I want to thank the club for having me here. The challenge of coming to Kansas City and joining MLS is something that is very attractive to me. Lots of European players are even looking to MLS as a league they would like to come join. The level of competition and exposure is all rising. I am the type of person that likes the challenge, and I believe this is a great club. I want to live up to expectations and all of the investment that was placed on me. I want to be able to show Peter, the rest of the team and the rest of the organization that I am somebody to be trusted, and I look forward to all of the excitement of a new season.

On his first impressions of Pinnacle and Children’s Mercy Park…

These are amazing grounds. I’ve never seen such a specialized and organized club in terms of how day-to-day operations are carried out. It really blew me away and was much greater than what I expected. This proves that I made the right choice because, from what I can tell, the amount of attention and detail placed on improving the players is something that I never, ever could have expected. I already envision myself doing great things and displaying great performances at the club. That’s really the focus right now.

On how he and his wife have integrated into Kansas City…

This weather is definitely different and that will be a growing process, but it won’t be a big problem. I believe I have everything I need in terms of a support group and what I need in a city to thrive, and that is my family. What’s most important in terms of adapting is that, in the past—whether I’ve been at Tigres or Chivas or Olympiacos—I have been a champion. I have won things, and I wish to do that here. I see this city as a place where I can hopefully grow as a person and a player.

On the trend of more high-caliber Mexican players joining MLS…

The quality of life here is much better, and that is definitely something that draws Mexican players here. But with that being said, MLS itself has grown a great amount. There have been big names that have come to the league like David Beckham and Wayne Rooney, and that motivates players because you want to be playing with those big names. On the opposite end, in terms of visibility, MLS can help players get noticed by European teams. European teams watch MLS, and Mexican players know that gives them good visibility in those markets. When you add all that together, that explains why more Mexican players are being drawn to MLS.

On his experience attending the Chiefs playoff game against the Texans…

As soon as I got here, it was different. Snow isn’t something that I’m quite accustomed to, but I am very happy. I’m happy with the way the club has welcomed me and my wife, as well. The first experience I had here was going to the Chiefs game. It was a great game—there was a comeback and it was an important win. Most importantly, what was great to see was the support of the fans. It’s really motivating to see how immensely the fans rally around the team and the amount of support the teams have. That motivates me to get ready and move on to this next challenge.

On whether he plans to embrace a leadership role for Sporting…

I do consider myself a leader. At Chivas, in fact, I was the captain for a few games and I pride myself in having a winner’s mentality. Everywhere that I’ve gone, I have been a champion. It’s the reason I decided to come here. I have the same mentality that Peter Vermes shares. Peter wants to be on top and fighting for trophies. That’s the same mentality I have. What I offer is experience. I have played in Europe and had success everywhere that I’ve gone. What I want to offer to the team is what I’ve always said—no one player is greater than the team. What I want to bring is hard work and contributing to the family environment—bringing my qualities to the team and ultimately showing that I’m an example through my character and I have a winning personality.

On being the club’s focal point in attack and handling high expectations…

I’m very proud and very happy to be the most expensive player in Sporting KC history. I’m happy because it shows the club’s trust in my abilities and the quality that I have shown. That being said, this also motivates me in another way, because I’m now in a commitment. I’m in a commitment with the club, with my teammates, with the community. This is something that I find very important as I detail my future goals. Hopefully with the help of God, my teammates and the organization—which I believe is the ideal organization to be with—we will achieve a lot of goals that we set out for ourselves.

On how MLS can potentially help him return to the Mexican national team…

Something I want to do is return to the Mexican national team. One of my former national team coaches, Tata Martino, knows the MLS market and knows the league. In the past, players like Jonathan dos Santos and Uriel Antuna have also gone to the national team having played in this league. MLS offers me a new challenge and more exposure. Having said that, I know it’s up to me to put in the hard work to reach that goal.

Manager and Sporting Director Peter Vermes

Opening remarks…

I’d first like to say congratulations to the Hunt Family, Andy Reid and all the players of the Kansas City Chiefs. It’s great for the city and it’s great for our team. We’re excited and we wish them the best in their next game.

We’re extremely happy to add Alan to our club. We welcome him and look forward to a long relationship both on and off the field. Before we get there, I’d like to say that at the end of this year, we met as a club to discuss how we would move forward. We do that all the time. I’m very grateful for our ownership group because they continue to demonstrate the vision of trying to be a team in MLS that will consistently be competitive. The resources they gave us to be able to make an investment like this is tremendous. I’d like to thank them and thank our player personnel department, which did a great job in making this happen—both Brian Bliss and Meghan Cameron.

I would also say that Chivas was a good partner in getting this deal done. It’s always interesting to see when a club is willing to meet the demands and the ambitions of players on their team. It’s something that I can appreciate because it’s something that we do here, as well. We have been very liberal with our players that when opportunities come their way, we would provide them. Chivas was very respectful to Alan’s wishes to try the opportunity of coming to Major League Soccer and Sporting Kansas City. Thank you to Chivas, as well.

Finally, and I’ve said this over the years, one player doesn’t make the team. The first of our four core values is that the team is always first. Alan is going to be a great asset to the team. He will help us in so many ways, and it’s not just by scoring goals—it will be other things, as well. We believe that his personality and presence is something that will be not only good for our team, but also for our fans and community. We’re excited to get started.

On acquiring Pulido in a club-record transfer and whether the club will continue to spend to acquire major talent moving forward…

Over the years, we have always looked at many different opportunities to invest in players at all different tiers. What I would say is that our league is changing, and it should. It’s evolving and the quality of play is getting better and better on the field. To stay with or even ahead of the other teams in the league, it’s not always going to be about spending money. But obviously there are certain areas where you have to, and there’s no doubt that goal scoring is one of them. A No. 9 is an area on the field that every team in the world looks for. When you look at Barcelona, Luis Suarez wasn’t developed in Barcelona. He was purchased from another team.

Everybody searches for those things, and we have been looking for that type of player for a long time. There have been different reasons it hasn’t happened. Maybe we weren’t willing to overspend for that player—the financial side didn’t work—or maybe because our team was doing so well at the time that we didn’t’ want to upset the apple cart. This is the right time for us. It’s easy for me to walk in the door and say, “Guys, I need more money to fix this problem.” It’s a different thing to have a way, an idea and a philosophy behind why you’re going to spend that money, what it’s for, and your vision moving forward. I think our investments are one of calculation and good planning as we look to evolve with Major League Soccer.

On Pulido’s versatility as an attacking player…

One of the things I’m incredibly impressed about with Alan is his work rate. He works his butt off. It’s one of the big things we search for in players we bring to our club. If you watched Chivas last year, as much as he was a shining star on the team, every game he fought like they were trying to win the championship. That resonates with me because it means he’s a team player. Regarding the way he fits into our team, even though you see our system as a 4-3-3, you’ve seen our No. 9 at times play (up top) but also as a false nine where he drops into the midfield. That’s the quality that Alan has—it’s not a one-way street. He can do different things in different games against different opponents. He has the quality to be able to adapt and adjust in those games, so it’s not going to be one or the other. It’s going to be a multitude of ways he can play, and he also has the quality and skillset for that.

On the process of identifying Pulido, working with Chivas and getting the transfer completed…

About a year and a half ago, we created a department that is a subset of our player personnel department. It’s called our Talent identification Directors. Our objective was to get people who were more than just scouts—get people that have worked in clubs, done deals, had a strong familiarity with Major League Soccer and had a connection with (Sporting). One of the people overseeing South America for us is Santiago Hirsig, a player that played for me in my first year as a coach here in Kansas City. He was instrumental in making this happen because he had worked with Chivas in the past.

This deal never would have gotten done if it wasn’t for Santiago’s connection to this. That’s great for two reasons: one is he’s a former player here at the club. For us to be able to connect with guys who have been with our club is fantastic for our culture and everything we do. They understand what we’re looking for in players both on and off the field. Second, he brought expertise to the table. Moving forward, that will help us produce results, just as we did in our execution with Alan. Santiago will be very instrumental going forward, and we wouldn’t have gotten this deal done if he wasn’t involved.

On the importance of Sporting’s Talent Identification Directors…

From my point of view, this was a very important area we needed to develop moving forward. We don’t compete in the United States. We compete on the world market. So we need to have very good people around the world that understand us. We’ve invested a lot of time into those people by bringing them here even though they’ve lived in other regions of the world. We’ve brought them here to understand what we’re looking for, not only individually but positionally and with the personality of players and how they fit into our culture. What’s great about Santiago’s situation is he was a player at this club, and now he’s back with us. He has a very good understanding of who we are, and for him to see that Alan is a type of player who could work here, it helps us a lot.

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