Sporting KC

The injuries mount for Sporting KC: Besler, Espinoza, Wallace to miss extended time

Coach Peter Vermes after Sporting KC bows out of Champions League: “We gave away soft goals”

Sporting KC lost to Monterrey FC in the CONCACAF Champions League semifinals at Children’s Mercy Park.
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Sporting KC lost to Monterrey FC in the CONCACAF Champions League semifinals at Children’s Mercy Park.

The winless streak hit five Saturday, leaving Sporting Kansas City one match shy of putting up a zero in April.

To that end, this won’t help.

Sporting KC will be without several players over the coming weeks — or in some cases, months.

Midfielder Roger Espinoza will miss 2-3 months with a knee injury; captain Matt Besler, hurt during Saturday’s loss in San Jose, is out 2-4 weeks with a hamstring strain; and defender Rodney Wallace will sit out 4-6 months with a hip injury that will require an operation.

Just as its schedule lightens, allowing coaches to worry less about rotating the lineup to preserve fresh legs, Sporting KC will navigate several weeks with a thin roster. The club is already without defenders Jimmy Medranda and Jaylin Lindsey, each of them sidelined with long-term knee issues.

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With the nature of MLS roster construction — few mid-season trades or spring transfers — Sporting KC is left to either overpay in a crunch or look at in-house options to carry the weight. Its filled international spots leaves the latter as the most likely scenario.

It will get a boost with the looming return of center back Andreu Fontas, who missed last week’s match but should return to training this week. A combination of Fontas, Botond Barath and Abdul Rwatubyaye will fill the two spots in the middle of the defense. Those three combined for one MLS start prior to 2019. Besler has made more starts (257) than any player in franchise history. Sporting coach Peter Vermes has historically played it cautious with muscle injuries, and Besler has missed time with hamstring injuries in the past.

The midfield is a bit more prepared for the absence of Espinoza, though his durable presence was evidently missed Saturday. Espinoza, who has two assists in four MLS starts, suffered damage to his posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) in his knee, though he will not undergo surgery. Gianluca Busio, Kelyn Rowe and Yohan Croizet are capable of sliding into the midfield.

Wallace was acquired this winter to replenish the depth at outside back. Instead, it’s a spot in which the injury list is mounting. Sporting KC has played all season without Medranda, who has been out since last May with a knee injury and isn’t expected to return until June or July. Medranda has been running the perimeter of the field during Sporting’s practices for the past month.

Right back Jaylin Lindsey is also out for an extended period of time with a knee injury. Lindsey suffered a torn meniscus in his left knee while warming up for a practice session last month. The initial prognosis is a 4-to-5 month absence.

Sporting KC plays five of its next six matches at home, starting with a Saturday tilt against the New England Revolution at 7:30 p.m. at Children’s Mercy Park.

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