Sporting KC

Sporting KC will be without its top two center backs Thursday

Sporting Kansas City’s Matt Besler.
Sporting Kansas City’s Matt Besler.

Sporting Kansas City will be without its top center-back pairing for the second consecutive match Thursday when the club travels to play the LA Galaxy.

Matt Besler remains with the U.S. men’s national team, and Nuno Coelho did not practice Monday, three days after a minor hamstring strain kept him out of Friday’s home loss to D.C. United.

“He will probably be out Thursday,” Sporting KC coach Peter Vermes said of Coelho. “He’s fine, but I don’t want to rush him back, especially with a break coming up.”

After Thursday’s trip to Los Angeles, Sporting KC will not play again until June 15, when it enters the U.S. Open Cup tournament. Its next MLS regular-season match will take play June 19 against FC Dallas.

With Besler and Coelho unavailable this week, Sporting KC will likely turn to a center back pairing of Kevin Ellis and Ike Opara for the second straight match. Ellis made his first appearance Friday since suffering a groin injury on April 9. He and Opara occupied the middle of the defense, and the club allowed only two shots on goal.

A day later, Besler featured for the U.S. men’s national team in its exhibition match against Bolivia, though he played left back for the first time in his international career. He started the first half before being subbed off at halftime.

“He did a great job, so that 45 minutes was very valuable to us,” U.S. coach Jürgen Klinsmann said.

Graham Zusi subbed into the match in the 73rd minute Saturday.

The Americans will open their Copa America Centenario schedule Friday against Colombia in Santa Clara, Calif.