During his first three seasons with Sporting Kansas City, Chance Myers was a scrappy defender, long on promise but short on production with only 31 appearances and 13 starts in his first three professional campaigns.
That all changed last season when he cracked the starting lineup May 28 at right back and never relinquished the role.
Myers would make 31 appearances last season alone counting the playoffs, including 27 starts and 22 games where he played all 90 minutes in emerging as an integral piece for the regular-season Eastern Conference champions.
Now into his fifth camp with Sporting KC, Myers is entrenched as a starter, but he refuses to let that fact go to his head.
“You come in with the same mentality,” Myers said. “You’re fighting for your position regardless of what happened last year. That’s my mentality. On this team right now we’ve got so much depth, we’re all fighting for our spots.”
Myers was as close to a sure thing as there is in U.S. youth soccer. He played for the under-18 and under-20 men’s national teams, cutting his teeth playing for some of the finest clubs on the West Coast, then spent two seasons at UCLA before turning pro.
Three days before the 2008 Major League Soccer SuperDraft, Sporting KC, known then as the Wizards, thought enough of him that the club shipped popular defender Nick Garcia to the San Jose Earthquakes in exchange for the No. 1 overall pick — a draft choice it would use on Myers.
That made his breakout season a breath of fresh air for manager Peter Vermes and the rest of the Sporting KC staff, which had banked quite a bit on Myers through the years.
“It’s great that he is beginning to live up to his potential,” Vermes said. “Obviously, you always want it to happen as fast as you possibly can, but you also know that if you’re doing the right things systematically to develop those guys and they have the right attitude that it will come at some point.”
The time is now for Myers, a Thousand Oaks, Calif., native, who has given up winters at the beach to train more in Kansas City, a move that helped everything click.
Not only has he found a new comfort level in Kansas City, but Myers has discovered a new comfort level on the field.
Of course, Vermes lauds the fact that Myers isn’t approaching his first season as a full-time starter and budding star as if he’s arrived professionally.
“He’s taken a big jump from last season, but for a lot of the guys, and this includes Chance, now it’s about doing it consistently,” Vermes said. “It’s about coming back and not starting at a low level then trying to build back up, but starting at the level they left and increasing over the season. Chance has established himself as a player on the team and that he can start in this league, so I think for him mentally it’s a great place to be.”
Now, it’s about refining his game — a box-to-box free-for-all that Vermes adores and Myers is as good as anybody in the league at — and providing better service, which will create more and better goal chances.
Perhaps, it will even lead to Myers’ first MLS goal. He scored twice in a Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup game last season — three days before taking over as the starting right back for the duration of the season — but has yet to get one during the regular season.
“It’s coming this year,” Myers said. “Why not?”
Vermes chimed in, “And when it does, it’s going to be a bomb. He’s got a very good shot and the way he comes in and hits balls, he can crush it.”