CARSON, CA - MARCH 19: Omar Bravo #99 of Sporting Kansas City celebrates with soccer fans after their MLS match against Chivas USA at The Home Depot Center on March 19, 2011 in Carson, California. SKC defeated Chivas 3-2. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)
While Sporting Kansas City remain mum on Omar Bravo's situation, speculation continues to circulate that Bravo has played his last match for the MLS club.
The Omar Bravo rumors just won't seem to go away.
First, we heard that Bravo was unhappy with his playing time in the Eastern Conference Final. Not too long after, word was out that Sporting Kansas City head coach Peter Vermes and Bravo had a cordial discussion that seemed to go well, and we assumed that perhaps things had been worked out between the head coach and Omar. However, Jorge Ramos of ESPN tweeted a few days ago that Bravo said that he was done playing in Kansas City, citing disagreements between himself and Vermes as to why he wanted out. And the latest news has Bravo linked to a move to Veracruz. According to that article, Bravo has had talks with Veracruz's management about a possible move.
So, perhaps that talk between Vermes and Bravo didn't go so well after all.
When it was first initially reported that Bravo was unhappy about his lack of playing time in the Eastern Conference Final against the Houston Dynamo, I honestly didn't think too much of the situation. Bravo was nursing a quad strain that had kept him out of the previous two playoff matches against Colorado, and despite his insistence that he was ready to go for the match against Houston, Vermes ultimately decided that Omar was not fit enough to contribute, or contribute any more than a few minutes at the end of the game.
Bravo was eventually substituted into the Houston match at the 85th minute, but in all reality it was a case of "too little, too late." With Houston already ahead 1-0, it was only two minutes later that Carlo Costly scored a second goal for Houston, giving the Dynamo a 2-0 win, and bouncing Sporting from the 2011 MLS playoffs.
I do understand Bravo's frustration given the situation. After all, like most athletes the guy is a fierce competitor. He wants to be on the field, no matter what. From Bravo's perspective, he was healthy enough to make a contribution, and to help settle a young team down that had seemed to have trouble dealing with the magnitude of that particular game.
However, I also understand Vermes' views on the situation as well. Bravo hadn't played a single minute in the playoffs up to that point, and Kansas City had easily taken care of " then defending MLS Cup Champions", Colorado Rapids in a two-leg playoff. Vermes was willing to continue with the same "hot" lineup that had gotten the team to the Eastern Conference Final.
Despite the fact that Bravo was upset after the match about his lack of playing time, I figured both he and Peter Vermes would be able to iron things out. After all, Sporting Kansas City had a great season, and were able to finish first in the Eastern Conference. Bravo was a big part of that being possible, tying for the team lead in goals in the regular season. Vermes' willingness to bring Bravo to Kansas City seemed like an extremely good signing at the time, and for the majority of the 2011 season.
And yet, here we are, with continued talk that Bravo is done playing in Kansas City. The worst part about the whole saga? I think the longer this goes on, and the more we hear from credible sources that Bravo is in fact, unhappy with Vermes, and is actively searching for a new club, the more likely I think it is that Omar has quite possibly played his last game in Sporting blue.
Does anyone else find it somewhat odd that neither the club, nor Bravo have come out and denied all of the rumors? If the talk had no validity to it, why not just come out and quash all of the speculation?
I don't know. I'm just starting to get a bad feeling about the Bravo situation as these rumors continue to circulate. The recent addition of San Jose midfielder Bobby Convey, if one does believe that Omar really doesn't want to play in Kansas City anymore, will probably only reinforce that idea, as Convey is more than capable of filling in on the left side of the Sporting Kansas City attack.
After the Convey trade, I wasn't quite sure the Convey acquisition and the possibility of Bravo's departure went hand in hand. I'm still not totally convinced of that. The way I tend to see the Convey trade is that Vermes wanted to add depth behind Bravo to give Omar rest when he needs it, or in the case he were to go down with an injury at some point in time during the season. I wrote a piece last week that talked about Vermes enhancing the club's depth with the additions of Convey and Paulo Nagamura as to avoid a repeat of the 2-0 Eastern Conference Final loss to Houston, where Sporting Kansas City had essentially no quality depth on the left wing when Bravo was out for the team's playoff run.
However, when I put on my "Unhappy Omar Bravo" tinted glasses, the addition of Convey could be seen as Vermes acquiring a safety net in the case that Bravo does leave the club. And Convey will make a pretty penny in 2012. Not designated player money, but a pretty darn good wage. How many players in the league are getting paid $150K plus to simply be role players, or to ride the bench? Well, how many players not named Shavar Thomas?
I suppose at the end of the day, we shouldn't be that surprised if Bravo and Vermes aren't ultimately able to work something out. After all, both seem to be quite head strong figures. I don't know either personally, so I'm just going by the personas I see in interviews or during games. It would just be a shame if the Bravo era in Kansas City were to end under these conditions. The partnership of Bravo and Sporting Kansas City, a partnership that was a big success for the majority of 2011, could very well be over less than a year after it first begun.