Starting with Saturday’s trip to Montreal, Kansas City has six games over 21 days — including two weeks with multiple games.
Here are the next six: @Montreal (Sat.), vs. Philadelphia (Wed., May 14), @Chicago (Sun., May 18), Toronto (Fri., May 23), New York (Tues., May 27) and @D.C. United (May 31). Kansas City also travels to Houston on June 6 -- the last game before the MLS World Cup break. Every single match, by the way, is against an Eastern Conference foe. Many of the tricker games (New York and Toronto specifically) are home games. Which helps a little bit. But that’s not a picnic of a schedule. And it get worse: The majority of those games (basically the last four and two games in the month of June) and the early rounds of the U.S. Open Cup will be without the services of Graham Zusi and Matt Besler. It’s expected that U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann will release his preliminary 30-man World Cup roster next week after many European leagues have completed the season. Besler and Zusi are virtual locks to be on that roster. MLS players are reportedly scheduled to report on May 15* — the day after KC’s game with Philadelphia.
*The bright side for KC fans? They probably won’t see Michael Bradley when Toronto comes to town.
Should the Philadelphia game be the last Kansas City will see of Zusi and Besler until after the World Cup has finished, it should make Peter Vermes’ selections for the gameday 18-man rosters in May a bit tricky. Vermes will likely turn to Aurelien Collin and Lawrence Olum as his main duo in defense. Untested youngster Erik Palmer-Brown, the only other center back on the roster, would be the third option. The regular back-up, Ike Opara, is out of the season after undergoing ankle surgery. Collin and Olum — who haven’t played together much; Olum is usually Collin’s replacement — will have big shoes to fill. Besler is SKC’s captain and back-line organizer. He is often the launching pad for KC’s attack (check out his ball to start the movement that led to KC’s first goal against Columbus
) and his long throw-in has been a real weapon this year.
He’ll be tough to replace completely, but Collin and Olum have both shown their merits the last two years. To replace Zusi, the team can turn to a few options to replace him positionally on the left wing: Soony Saad, C.J. Sapong (if healthy), Jacob Peterson or Toni Dovale. Replacing what he does for the team — basically in a nutshell: dictating the attack — will likely fall to Benny Feilhaber. This season, Feilhaber has been up to the task and then some. Even against Columbus — his least effective 90 minutes this season — he was still extremely dangerous in the second half.
It will be his offense to run in May. Unless, of course, he gets called up to the U.S. national team too. That would make things quite a bit more difficult.