Sporting forward Alan Pulido has been everything Peter Vermes expected, and more

Mexican striker Alan Pulido has exceeded Sporting Kansas City Manager Peter Vermes' early expectations on the field.

Safe to say that also goes for his appearances with the media.

During MLS is Back virtual media festivities that were supposed to be devoted to some of the league's higher-profile coaches, Pulido took the opportunity of a lull in proceedings to make himself available to those on the line on Tuesday. 

Apparently that's just par for the course for the former Chivas of Guadalajara marksman, who was off to a flying start with SKC before the COVID-19 pandemic brought play to a halt.

"Alan is an incredible professional," Vermes said. "I had an idea in my head of how Alan would fit into our team, he has surpassed all my expectations. He is a tremendous person, great character, team guy all the way. His soccer qualities — I had a good idea of how they would fit into our team — and I’ve been amazed at how much better in my mind’s eye I thought he was going to fit in. He has actually fit in tremendously. His work ethic is incredible. His desire to win is at a very high level. We’re very lucky to have him."

Pulido and Vermes hope that mojo resurfaces quickly when Sporting open Group D of the competition on Sunday night against Minnesota United FC (7 p.m CT | ESPN, ESPN Deportes). Pulido has been a fast starter so far, scoring after 17 and 16 minutes, respectively, in Week 1 and Week 2 wins at Vancouver and home to Houston.

The bright start has even brought some chatter that he, rather than the LA Galaxy's Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez, might be the more likely of the 2020 Mexican imports to challenge fellow countryman Carlos Vela's single-season scoring record of 34 goals posted for LAFC in 2019. Pulido, who like Chicharito came through the Chivas academy, isn't taking the bait.

"That’s difficult," he said of Vela's record. "But hopefully in time I can score half the goals that Vela has. But, yes, more than anything right now in this tournament it’s very different. It’s a new experience. It’s a distinct competition although we’re playing the same sport. In these moments with the experience that I have, it’s like a World Cup. I had a chance to go to the Brazil 2014 World Cup and I played a World Cup with the [Mexico] Under-20s. I know how to manage these games and I know the most important thing is the team."

Vermes apparently believes his striker can handle the expectations. Despite a four-month layoff, he bordered on boastful about the No. 9's form coming back to live competition.

"I feel that he is very motivated, I feel that he’s very close to his form before we stopped because of COVID-19," Vermes said. "He’s very close in regards to his fitness and everything else and so I hope that he gets back to the same type of form very quickly."

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