KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Sporting Kansas City is bringing back an old friend midway through the season.
SKC has signed Chilean midfielder Felipe Gutiérrez for a second stint in the double blue.
Gutiérrez comes back to KC from a short period with Al Wasl in the United Arab Emirates Pro League. He tallied two goals and two assists in 12 matches with Al Wasl.
“It was an easy decision to come back to the team,” Gutiérrez said on Thursday. “When I [was] here, it was a joy to play, how we play and the way we play and I want to feel that feeling again.”
The 32-year-old was a pivotal piece for Sporting from 2018 to 2020 when Sporting reached the 2018 MLS semifinal, the 2019 CONCACAF Champions League semifinal and the 2020 MLS quarterfinals. In that time he scored 19 goals with eight assists in 70 matches with the club.
Gutiérrez spent some time with Chilean club Universidad Católica and the Colorado Rapids before Al Wasl.
Gutiérrez stayed in touch with manager Peter Vermes ever since he left and Vermes said Gutiérrez only left the team because of a cartilage defect in his knee that needed surgery in 2020.
The former Chilean national team member said he was ready to retire after the surgery.
“That was a tough moment for me,” Gutiérrez said. He credits his wife and his family for supporting him through that time.
“I try and I try and I feel good again after seven months and that was good because these [past] couple years, I compete again and that’s [a] good feeling for me.”
Gutiérrez replaces defender Kortne Ford who has been placed on the season-ending injury list after rupturing his Achilles in February. Vermes believes Gutiérrez can play seven positions across the pitch.
Vermes said he’ll be needed for spot duty for instances when he needs to step in for 30 or 60 minutes at a time or when the team has three matches in seven days.
“I’m glad that he’s here, I really am,” Vermes said. “I think it would’ve been really difficult for us to find as good a fit.”
This move correlates with the opening of the MLS’s Secondary Transfer Window which started on Wednesday, July 5 and goes to Wednesday, August 2. Vermes said more moves may be on the way.
“I think it would be very hard to get something from outside of the league at the moment just because [of] the way our roster is, but there might be an opportunity for a trade here or there,” Vermes said.
“We’ve talked about some different things but I wouldn’t say there’s anything today set to go.”
Sporting is working their way up from the bottom of the Western Conference standings. They are just one point outside of a playoff spot and have three games left before the league pauses for Leagues Cup play: an annual, month-long, CONCACAF-sanctioned tournament between 47 MLS and LIGA MX clubs.
Sporting hits the road to face the Houston Dynamo on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.