With three preseason games in the bag, it's time to do something completely and totally premature -- speculate about Sporting Kansas City's depth chart.
With only three weeks to go in the pre-season (and a big test at the Disney Pro Classic looming), I figured it's high time to do what bloggers are supposed to do in this situation: Invent something to write about.
Having seen absolutely none of the games (save for edited highlights, of course), I'm blindly taking a stab at this based solely on minutes played, substitution patterns and my own (slightly knowledgeable) opinions.
So, why do it? Well, for starters it's a fun game that everyone who follows a sports team loves to play. (Or, it's a game that I love to play and am assuming everyone else does so I don't feel like a weirdo. And, if that's the case, just let me keep living in my own weird world.)
Secondly, it's instructive to know what Sporting Kansas City has and where it has it. There are bound to be disagreements -- for instance, I'm lumping a lot of players into the "defensive midfielder" category and you may think I'm wrong on who I lump into that category.
But, as they say, that's why you play this game. I've included some brief thoughts on each position.
Key: HG=Homegrown, GA=Generation adidas, I=Internatinoal. Players initalics
are trialists or unsigned draft picksGoalkeepers
1. Jimmy Nielsen-I
2. Eric Kronberg
3. Jon Kempin-HG
4. Steve Spangler
5. Scott Angevine
No surprise that Nielsen is the No. 1. Kempin technically played more minutes (and got a start) than Kronberg (120 to 30), but Kronberg is recovering from sports hernia surgery and will be worked in slowly. From what I'm hearing (from no less than Nielsen himself), Kempin had a really solid camp.
As for the trialists, Spangler played 30 minutes against FC Tucson. Angevine didn't make an appearance.Right Back
1. Chance Myers
2. Michael Harringon
3. Kevin Ellis-HG
4. Kyle Miller
Myers was one of five players to max out at 165 minutes played in Arizona. (The others were Matt Besler, Aurelien Collin, Kei Kamara and Bobby Convey; Espinoza came up two minutes short.) He's about as locked-in a starter as anyone on this team.
Harrington started only one preseason game (FC Tucson) and that was at left back.
Ellis was injured and didn't feature during the trip. Miller, the team's third-round supplemental draft pick, was a second-half substitute against FC Tucson.Left Back
1. Seth Sinovic
2. Michael Harrington
3. Korede Aiyegbusi-I
4. Shawn Singh
Sinovic started two games -- with Aiyegbusi replacing him -- and was rested in the third -- with Harrington getting the start.
A person in the know told me that Aiyegbusi had a really strong camp. (He also isn't working on a green card, so he'll remain an international.) I would guess, based on time served, he'd get the nod over Singh (just 30 minutes in the last game) if it came down to a roster spot.Center Back
1a. Matt Besler
1b. Aurelien Collin-I
3. Lawrence Olum
4a. Cyprian Hedrick
4b. Stefan Antonijevic
UNKNOWN: Daneil Cyrus-I (Personal Leave)
POSITION BATTLE ALERT!!! The fourth and fifth defender job sort of depends on Cyrus. If he reports to the team, he would likely be the third or fourth option with Hedrick or Antonijevic getting the short straw. If he doesn't come back, I expect the team could keep both of its 2012 draft picks.
If it does come down to Hedrick vs. Antonijevic, Hedrick got the majority of the work (105 minutes to 62). Though, both played together and play very different roles.
Olum is a flexible player who can go from defense to midfield. Technically, so can Julio Cesar. If KC found itself in a roster crunch, those two guys are both serviceable as defenders.Defensive Midfielder
1a. Julio Cesar-I
1b. Roger Espinoza
3. Paulo Nagamura
4a. Luke Sassano
4b. Michael Thomas
6. Lawrence Olum
UNKNOWN: Birahim Diop (Personal Leave)
I'm considering two parts of KC's three-man midfield to be defensive midfielders.
Cesar (75 minutes) and Nagamura (90 minutes) figure to be in competition for the same job -- resident Brazilian midfielder. Both saw reduced minutes; Cesar because of age, Nagamura because he's recovering from an injury.
Espinoza seems a lock for the roaming midfielder job. No surprise. What is surprising is how much Sassano played (137 minutes, second most among the midfielders). I've heard he came to camp in great shape and ready to go. Perhaps, if healthy, he has a greater role to play on this team than we think. Sassano most commonly replaced Espinoza during the matches (and started in the last game) but he's also capable of playing Cesar's job and right back.
Thomas is a bit of a wild card in my opinion. He can play all three roles, though his best might be as a true and patient defensive midfielder.
POSITION BATTLE ALERT!!! I really want to see how this group progresses as there are several interesting combinations here -- Cesar/Espinoza are the incumbents, Espinoza/Thomas would be very athletic, Cesar/Nagamura would be very technical, Espinoza/Sassano would run teams out of the stadium, Cesar/Olum would be weak against fast teams but dominate against smaller teams, and Cesar/Thomas would just pass the ball back and forth between each other for 45 minutes.Attacking Midfielder
1. Graham Zusi
2. Konrad Warzycha
3. Peterson Joseph-I
4. Cyrus Saydee
Zusi is the man here and just got a nice bump in pay to prove it. Warzycha is having a heck of a camp and, since he missed the entire 2011 season, is sort of like adding an extra SuperDraft pick. He could be this year's Zusi -- the guy that came out of nowhere to earn a consistent job on this team.
Joseph missed all three games recovering from a leg injury. Saydee made just one appearance in the last game, but he picked up an assist.Right Forward
1. Kei Kamara
2. Jacob Peterson
Kamara started all three games with Peterson replacing him directly in each game. Kamara picked up two goals already; Peterson got a helper on one. This is pretty much cut and dried.Left Forward
1. Bobby Convey
2. Dom Dwyer-GA/I
3. John Owoeri-I
Convey gives the team a true wide left forward and he saw the sort of minutes you'd expect a starter to see in the pre-season. Dwyer was most commonly his back-up (though he saw time at center forward too). Judging solely from goals scored and the "wow" factor, Dwyer had the best camp of anyone with a hat-trick against Tucson.
Owoeri is a trialist from Nigeria who saw 30 minutes (and registered an assist). I don't know his status.Center Forward
1a. C.J. Sapong
1b. Teal Bunbury
3. Soony Saad
4. Dom Dwyer-GA/I
Sapong and Bunbury were neck and neck going into camp. Sapong saw more action (105 minutes to 45), but that's only because Bunbury injured his toe. Well, with Teal heading to U-23 camp, the job seems solidly like it belong to Sapong.
POSITION BATTLE ALERT!!! Saad and Dwyer are both having impressive pre-seasons fighting for the second-forward-off-the-bench role. However, Dwyer's ability to play on the left might give him a slight edge over Saad.My Extraordinarily Premature Starting XI and Substitutes
Nielsen; Myers, Collin, Besler, Sinovic; Cesar, Zusi, Espinoza; Kamara, Sapong, Convey.
SUBS: Kronberg; Harrington, Olum; Nagamura, Sassano/Thomas*; Bunbury, Peterson*Yeah, so what, I cheated.
What do you think of KC's current depth chart? Do you see an area of concern? What's your prediction for the Starting XI?