The Full 90

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Sporting KC ’14 preview: The league’s best defense is back

03/04/2014 9:42 AM

03/07/2014 2:46 PM

When you add the gold star to your uniform, everyone comes gunning for you the next year. Every opponent brings its A game every night. Either they want to knock you off or prove a point. Or both.

This year, thats what Sporting Kansas City can expect week in, week out.

Good thing KC returns the majority of its title-winning club. To rise to the challenges, theyll likely need each and every player to contribute.

Yesterday, we took at a look at

the goalkeepers

. Today, in part two of the four-part preview, well look at the defense.

The Cast

Returning:

Aurelien Collin, Matt Besler, Kevin Ellis, Josh Gardner, Mechack Jerome, Chance Myers, Ike Opara, Erik Palmer-Brown, Seth Sinovic

Leaving:

Kyle Miller, Federico Bessone, Brendan Ruiz

Incoming:

None

Leading Man

Collin

Besler gets a lot of the credit for leading this team and rightly so he marshals the defense, makes timely interceptions, reads the game well and distributes calmly from the back.

Its the Frenchman, however, who sets the tone for a highly aggressive team that likes to harass and pester opponents. Granted, Collin often takes to this job with a little too much enthusiasm. Note his league-leading 13 yellow cards last year.

But theres more to Collin than his aggression. In 2013, he was one of the league leaders in interceptions and clearances per game (both critical metrics to monitor defensive actions) and he led all defenders in aerial duels won. For good measure, Collin was the leading scorer in the MLS playoffs (3) and nailed the winning penalty against Real Salt Lake in the MLS Cup final.