Omar Bravo will leave Sporting Kansas City in order to join Mexico's Cruz Azul, the team announced on Monday. Financial terms of the deal were not announced, so it's unknown if Sporting were able to recoup any of the money they spent on acquiring him in the first place, but it at least frees up a Designated Player spot. In fact, Sporting now has all three DP slots open after the team parted ways with Jeferson earlier this offseason.
In the press release announcing the move, Bravo was quoted as saying that he was open to returning to Sporting KC and MLS, but this at least ends an interesting chapter in his career. Bravo was first signed by KC during the 2010 season, but was immediately loaned back to Chivas de Guadalajara.
Bravo finally made his KC debut in 2011, essentially as part of the team's rebranding as Sporting KC. It didn't take long for him to make an impact, as the 31-year-old scored two goals in his first ever MLS game. He would go on to score nine goals and notch two assists, as one of the key cogs in Sporting's explosive attack.
But Bravo also struggled with the physical nature of the league and missed seven matches throughout the year. Injuries dogged him heading into the playoffs and forced him to miss both legs of the Eastern Conference semifinal, which Sporting won in rather dominant fashion over the Colorado Rapids. Although he declared himself fit for the conference finals, coach Peter Vermes did not start Bravo and only played him five minutes against the Houston Dynamo in a match Sporting ultimately lost.
That seemed to bring some supposedly long-simmering issues to a head and Bravo openly voiced his displeasure with Vermes. As Bravo headed out the door, none of that acrimony was apparent and both he and the team may actually be better off going their separate ways.
Bravo will join a Cruz Azul team that finished second during the most recent Apertura regular season, but fell to Morelia in the first round of the Liguilla. They also struggled to score goals at times, finishing with fewer goals than all but three of the Mexican Primera's 18 teams.
For their part, Sporting is free to find a player who can potentially more closely fit into Vermes' desires. As good as Bravo may have been at times, Vermes was clearly something less than enamored with someone whose designation suggested he needed to be a bigger part of the team's plans. It also casts the acquisition of Bobby Convey in a different light, as the attack-minded player has much more potential to see significant minutes without Bravo to contend with.
For more analysis of this move, be sure to check out Sporting KC blog The Daily Wiz.