Sporting KC

Sporting KC defender Jimmy Medranda out for the season and start of 2019

Sporting Kansas City defender Jimmy Medranda (left) has returned to action after missing a year with a knee injury.
Sporting Kansas City defender Jimmy Medranda (left) has returned to action after missing a year with a knee injury. Special to The Star

In its looming battle for playoff footing and a potential postseason run, Sporting Kansas City will be without a starter on the back line.

Jimmy Medranda will miss the remainder of the 2018 season after an exploratory knee surgery Friday revealed the need for a more invasive operation.

Medranda, who served as the team’s starting left back, is scheduled for surgery in three weeks to repair a cartilage defect in his left knee. The procedure is expected to sideline him for eight months, cutting short his 2018 season and delaying his 2019 campaign until the early summer.

“He’s an important guy, but we kind of knew we might be going in this direction — because he was struggling a little bit,” Sporting KC coach Peter Vermes said. “It’s tough, but the main focus now is just getting him healthy.”

When Sporting Kansas City opened training camp in January, Medranda was the assumed starting left back. At 24 years old, his playing time had steadily increased since joining the team in 2013, and 2018 was projected to be his first year as a full-fledged starter.

But a breakout year has turned into a series of bad breaks.

Medranda had a minor injury in training camp that stalled his progression to open the season. Once healthy, he occupied the left side of Sporting KC’s back line.

Then he injured a knee while passing a ball during practice in late May. He said he felt a pop. An MRI revealed swelling and a bone bruise in his left knee. Subsequent tests displayed little progress, prompting the exploratory surgery Friday in Los Angeles.

In three weeks, he will return to the West Coast for an operation.

Medranda started eight matches this year and scored twice. Sporting KC lost just one of his eight starts.

“It started out really well,” Vermes said of Medranda’s season. “But unfortunately this happened. It happens to guys.

“It’s just going to take some time. We’ll slowly start to increase the load and hope we get him back in April or May of next year.”

In his absence, Sporting KC has turned to a combination of veteran Seth Sinovic and rookie Jaylin Lindsey. Sinovic started the past two matches, both shutouts, moving Sporting KC into second place in the Western Conference.

Sporting KC scanned the market for a left back during the summer transfer window — and it can still sign players who are out of contract for another month — but there isn’t a sense of desperation from the front office to do so. Vermes said the club would investigate that option but added, “We’re not going to sign a guy just to sign a guy. We have players that can play that position. It would’ve been nice to have the full complement of our roster, but we know we’re not getting that.”