The two-week league layoff has been a bit fortuitous for Sporting Kansas City: Peter Vermes was able to play a very strong side against Colorado in the U.S. Open Cup and several players (notably Bobby Convey) have had time to shake off niggling injuries.
But the layoff wasn't all good. Matt Besler had to have his appendix removed (though, that would've happened regardless of the time off really).
KC returns to MLS action this weekend, and it won't get another break any time soon. Over the next 64 days, Sporting KC will pack 16 games (at least*) into the schedule, including the Open Cup quarterfinal against Dayton and a friendly against Stoke City.*If Sporting adds another international friendly (rumor alert: Paris St. Germain?) and progresses to the Open Cup final, that could be as many as 19 games in 2 months. That's just about one game every 3.37 days!
Let's catch-up on the last two weeks of news, notes and whatever else before things get really crazy.Who Replaces Besler?
Word came out Friday that KC's stalwart defender had to have his appendix out (which he called an"eight or nine out of 10" on the pain scale
) and the immediate prognosis is that he'll be out at least two weeks.
That means he'll likely miss the next three or four games* (v. Toronto, @ Seattle, @ Philadelphia, v. Dayton). How will KC cope? Vermes doesn't exactly have a stocked cupboard in defense already.*Besler is one of the most physically fit guys I've ever met. If anyone could return quickly, it would likely be him.
There are three likely options and one "crazy" option that I can think of.
The most logical is to drop Julio Cesar (nominally a defender most of his career) back to play alongside Aurelien Collin. That would then likely pull Paulo Nagamura (if healthy) into Cesar's role in the midfield. But it's not without trouble. It could disrupt KC's defense and distribution from the midfield.
Cesar isn't anywhere near as fast as Besler and he isn't very good as a man-to-man defender; his strongest defensive trait is his ability to slide tackle cleanly from out of position. Nagamura, a nice player when called upon, isn't the calm, distributing anchor in midfield that Cesar can be.
Another option would be Lawrence Olum. However, the former Orlando City man has rarely played central defense for KC. He's utilized more as backup to Julio Cesar as defensive midfielder. This would obviously keep the midfield in tact, but would put an untested (and frankly, overmatched) defender into a backline that has struggled with consistency the past month.
The last and least likely option is to use Konrad Waryzcha. However he only switched to the position this pre-season and, aside from reserve league games, has only played an unconvincing 85 minutes against Orlando in the Open Cup.
The "crazy" option? Roger Espinoza. The multi-functional Honduran has played the role before (against Chicago last year when Cesar picked up a late injury) and with Peterson Joseph's very solid game against Colorado, it could be the way to get Vermes' best eleven players on the field.All-Star voting opens
Fan voting for the 2012 MLS All Star Game began on Friday and there are six candidates from each MLS team up for nomination. For KC, those six are: Jimmy Nielsen, Aurelien Collin, Graham Zusi, Roger Espinoza, Kei Kamara and C.J. Sapong.
Through Monday, July 2 fans will be able to vote online at www.MLSsoccer.com and also by texting a player's first and last name via text to 22442. Voting will also be enabled via Twitter on June 21-22 with details to be announced.
The MLS All Stars will face Chelsea on July 25 at PPL Park in Philadelphia.International update
Only two Sporting players are participating in the international break: Espinoza and Kamara.
Kamara started and played 90 minutes in both of Sierra Leone's 2014 World Cup Qualifying matches, a 2-1 win over Cape Verde Islands and a 2-2 draw with Equatorial Guinea on Saturday.
The most important game for Sierra Leone, however, should be the Africa Cup of Nations qualifier this Friday against Sao Tome e Principe. Kamara won't be back with KC until the Seattle game next Wednesday at the earliest. (Though this yearly late Spring travel usually leads to a slump for KC's right forward.)
Espinoza was suspended (shocker) for Honduras' first World Cup qualifying match against Panama (a 2-0 loss for Honduras, by the way). He made a token appearance earlier in the week in a friendly against El Salvador.
Honduras will play Canada in Toronto on Tuesday night.Robb Heineman Q
Sporting KC's CEO sat down with The Kansas City Star recently for a Star Magazine interview. You can check it outhere
My favorite part:
Q: Has sharing information ever backfired?
A: Sure. A lot of it does. Once we had a verbal agreement with a Spanish forward to come here and I tweeted, "We've signed this player" but didn't give his name. The guy wound up getting hurt, so we didn't bring him in. Fans were asking, "When's the Spanish player coming?" Well, never. But we're going to keep doing it because our fans feel they are as much a part of the team as we are, and that is how our ownership group sees it as well."
Reserves Fall in Colorado
With injuries, call-ups and extended days-off, Sporting Kansas City took a very trialist-heavy lineup to Colorado on Saturday. The reserves lost 3-1, with Soony Saad picking up KC's lone goal.
The regulars who saw action: Jon Kempin, Michael Harrington, Warzycha, Michael Thomas, Kevin Ellis, Kyle Miller, Dom Dwyer, Saad and Jacob Peterson.
Three Sporting KC Juniors players made the trip (and made appearances in the game): U15/16s Erik Palmer-Brown and David Leichty and U17/18s player Eduardo Moreno.
There were two other trialists who saw action: Sana Camara and Evans Prophe. A quick google search on both didn't yield much on either, although there is a Portuguese central midfielder named Lassana Camara who goes by "Sana" on Real Valladolid's roster last season. Hopefully, we can get more information if possible this week.
The summer transfer window opens on June 27. Wonder if either of those two guys are part of the team's plans.