February 1, 2018 / 6:57 AM / 23 days ago

SKC close to signing Chilean national midfielder

Sporting Kansas City is close to signing midfielder Felipe Gutierrez, a member of the Chilean national team, the Kansas City Star reported Wednesday.

Gutierrez, 27, is under contract to Real Betis of Spain’s top-flight La Liga, though he most recently played on loan with Internacional in Brazil. The Star cited a Chilean publication reporting that Gutierrez came back to Betis in January when his loan spell was completed, and he and the team agreed that he would move on.

Gutierrez helped Chile capture the 2015 Copa America. In 35 appearances for his national team, he has four goals. Though La Roja are the two-time defending South American champions, having won also the Copa America Centenario in the United States in 2016, they failed to qualify for this year’s World Cup in Russia.

After starting his club career with Universidad Catolica in Santiago, Chile, from 2009-12, he then played for FC Twente in the Netherlands from 2012-16. Gutierrez made 14 appearances for Real Betis in La Liga in 2016, scoring one goal.

The Star also reported that Sporting KC completed the acquisition of a player from England on Wednesday, the European transfer-deadline day. Winger Johnny Russell is joining the MLS club from Derby County, which plays in the Championship, the second tier of the English soccer pyramid.

Russell, a 27-year-old Scotland native, scored 29 goals in 182 appearances for Derby County. He also has played four times for the Scottish national team without scoring a goal.

“I think that (Russell) has really good attacking qualities that can obviously provide us with something that our team needs, (and) that is (what) we need to be better in the attacking third,” Sporting KC coach Peter Vermes told the Star. “There’s no doubt in my mind he’s going to help with that.”

Sporting KC opens its season March 4 at home against New York City FC.

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