What was rumored last month has come to fruition. Oriol Rosell, two-plus years after moving to Major League Soccer from Barcelona, has been sold to Sporting Club of Portugal. Sporting Kansas City announced the move via the club’s website on Tuesday.
The 21-year-old moves after a 43-game career with Kansas City, including 31 appearances as part of last year’s title team. Playing a defensive role in Sporting’s three-man midfield, Rosell accumulated two goals and two assists over that span, with the 66 fouls he committed during the 2013 regular season ranking fourth in Major League Soccer.
The sale means Rosell is the third Sporting starter to make the jump to Europe in the last 18 months. At the end of the 2012 season, Honduran international Roger Espinoza left for England, joining Wigan Athletic. Forward Kei Kimara made a similar move last summer when he moved to Middlesbrough. Now, ending his apprenticeship in Major League Soccer, Rosell has followed suit, with the Spaniard returning to Iberia.
“We wish Uri the best of luck in pursuing this new opportunity,” said Sporting Club CEO Robb Heineman. “The perception from the outside might be that the timing is not great, but from the inside we believe that the timing is perfect. It opens the door for Uri and for us.”
That last sentence hints that Sporting, who could eventually slide Kenyan Lawrence Olum into Rosell’s spot, plans to make another move. Come July 9, the transfer window will be reopened, and with two-thirds of the (undisclosed) money from the Rosell sale at their allocation’s disposal, Sporting can go out an address its holes.
Defensive midfield may be the most obvious of those issues, but right back Chance Myers just recently went down. Erik Kronberg’s off to a slow start as the team’s new number one. Sal Zizzo has been decent since arriving from Portland, but the team is increasingly dependent on Dom Dwyer for goals. Depending on how Peter Vermes sees these positions, Kansas City could have anything from temporary concerns to outright holes.
With an offer on the table and a player whose departure was inevitable, Sporting may have decided this was the right moment to make a move. Perhaps that moment isn’t as perfect as Heinemann’s spinning, but it still provides some early certainty for a team working to defend a title.