Midfieler Uri Rosell has joined the ranks of players sold to overseas clubs after flourishing in MLS. Several weeks of pursuit by Sporting Lisbon yielded a transfer that was announced Tuesday.
Rosell, 21, is a product of the Barcelona youth academy and arrived two years ago. He played 49 matches (in all competitions) while drawing great praise from SKC coach Peter Vermes. He led MLS last year with 130 interceptions and started 31 of his 34 games. His meager offensive stats (2 goals, 2 assists) belie his ability to set attacks in motion with accurate passes of short- and medium-distance.
The club had rebuffed several inquiries from Sporting but eventually found the terms -- which were not disclosed -- too enticing.
“There's always going to be discussion,” said Vermes, who has seen Kei Kamara and Roger Espinoza move abroad in the past 18 months and is fending off interest in teenage defender Erik Palmer-Brown. “A lot of times, it's not worth talking about. This one just progressed, and they kept coming back, and at the end it was the right deal to do. It's a decision we made as an organization that was good for both sides, and it works out. Uri's been great for us, and now it's time to move on to the next step.”
In the short term, Rosell’s departure increases stress on an SKC roster depleted by national-team commitments and injuries. As talks progressed Vermes gave time to rookieAlex Martinez, who will be one of the candidates to establish himself in Rosell’s spot. Veteran Paulo Nagamura has been a key figure in central midfield since he came to the club in 2012 and now Vermes must again rejigger his lineup to fill a hole.
Toni Dovale was signed in March from Spanish club Celta and is manning the wing in Graham Zusi’s absence. He scored his first MLS goal last week in a 1-1 tie with New York. Outside backIgor Juliao also arrived in March -- on loan from Fluminense -- and has replaced Chance Myers, who suffered a season-ending Achilles tear, at right back.
Chief executive Robb Heineman told MLSSoccer.com the transfer fee paid was the highest ever for an SKC player though the figure wasn’t divulged. He also reiterated the club’s stance that if a player wants to move and the right price is offered, it will make a deal.
“The first couple of times they inquired, it wasn't appropriate from a timing perspective,” Heineman said. “And the more we talked to Uri, his desire to head back to Europe was increasing and the opportunity to play in the [UEFA] Champions League was attractive to him. The timing worked out and based on where we are at, it made sense for us as well.”