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Rumor: Sporting KC Linked to 21-Year-Old Venezuelan Midfielder

The first Sporting Kansas City signing rumor in months. Let us show you highlights and teach you about Bryant Ortega.

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Credit: Thad Bell

While the summer transfer window doesn’t open in Major League Soccer until July 18th, it doesn’t meant teams aren’t working on things. Argentinian journalist Uriel Lugt is reporting that two clubs in MLS are interested in a young Venezuelan midfielder, and TV and Radio host Armando Naranjo says one of them is Sporting Kansas City.

The player in question? 21-year-old Bryant Ortega. He currently plays for Caracas FC in the Venezuelan first division. It’s the same team he came through the academy with. Bryant Jesús Ortega Carmona also has experience playing at the youth levels in Venezuela for the national team, with appearances on the U20, U21 and U23 teams. He’s made 20 appearances and scored a goal for his country.

Transfermarkt lists him as a central midfielder, with the ability to play both the defensive and attacking roles. For the current season he has played a bit for his first team, who are sitting fairly far down the table. He has played in all five games in the continental competition, the Copa Libertadores and six more in league play for a combined 874 minutes. He has no goals or assists in that time.

Caracas are one of four teams representing the Venezuelan league in the Copa Libertadores, having been runners up in 2023 in their domestic league. They were eliminated in the group stage with just one point in five games. That draw was against Argentinian side, Rosario Central.

Looking further back in his relatively young career finds him with 73 appearances, two goals and six assists but already amassing 5,012 minutes. He’s also had a few appearances at right back and even one at right midfielder, but the vast majority are in the midfield.

Does Sporting KC Have Roster Room?

And while Transfermarkt can be dicey on this front, they have his value at $500,000. He’s also under contract through December of 2025, so a transfer fee would be necessary to pry him lost from his club.

If the new rules that are rumored to be rolled out in MLS this summer are true, it should be a non-issue for Sporting KC. It would create a U-22 initiative spot that he’d likely slot right into. That means his transfer fee would have no impact on the budget, and whatever salary he’s paid would only count for $200,000 against the salary budget, as long as he makes $683,750 or less this season.

The team currently has three U-22 initiative players in Marinos Tzionis, Logan Ndenbe and Robert Voloder.

Highlights

Below is a highlight back of his 2023 season. Lots of the highlights find him deeper in the midfield. Not knowing what formation Venezuela or his club plays, I can’t be 100 percent certain where he’s lining up, but it feels more like a defensive midfielder (#6) or box-to-box midfielder (#8). Not the more attacking role SKC fans have seen Alan Pulido attempting to play in recent weeks.

It’s a highlight package, so you don’t want to take too much from it, but he seems to have some pretty slick footwork, he has a burst of quickness, and he can pick out a pass pretty well. They even have some defensive highlights of him reading lanes well and even being a little physical at times.

Sporting KC’s Fit

If he can play all over the midfield, he’d be valuable depth in a midfield severely lacking it this season. Outside of the three regular starters, Erik Thommy, Remi Walter and Nemanja Radoja, only Memo Rodriguez has seen regular time. Pulido has played out of position in the midfield and Felipe Hernandez has seen the field sparingly.

Ortega doesn’t appear to be super attack minded from the highlights and stats, so he’d likely be cover for Walter and maybe even Radoja.

Then again, this is affectionally called silly season, so don’t get too excited. Peter Vermes has said the team is looking to add players this summer and filling that U-22 slot could make a good bit of sense. Whether that’s with Ortega or someone else, a midfielder or attacker is probably a better use of those slots with the risk/reward trade-off that comes with spending on young players.

What do you think of Ortega? Does he fit the way Sporting KC want to play? Sound off in the comments.

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