The Full 90

The Full 90’s 2016 Sporting KC preview: defenders

Sporting KC defender Matt Besler will be the anchor of the team’s backline.
Sporting KC defender Matt Besler will be the anchor of the team’s backline. JSLEEZER@KCSTAR.COM

With the 2016 MLS regular season starting Sunday, and the rest of the league already previewed on the blog, attention to turns to Sporting Kansas City and its pursuit of more hardware in the year to come.

Our position breakdown continues with the defenders:

Matt Besler

2015 FINISH: 32 starts, 2,830 minutes played, 0 goals, 3 assists

2016 ROLE: Starting left centerback, captain

SKINNY: Matt Besler returned to an All-Star form last season after a shaky end to his 2014 campaign. In fact, last season was one of his best as a professional, especially considering Ike Opara’s injury and Kevin Ellis’ transition to centerback. Besler will miss time this summer with the U.S. men’s national team but will remain a key piece on the backline.

Chance Myers

2015 FINISH: 10 starts, 840 minutes played, 0 goals, 2 assists

2016 ROLE: Starting right fullback

SKINNY: It was a slow and careful return to action for Chance Myers last season. On June 27, he made his first MLS start since May 2014 after recovering from an Achilles’ injury. He seemed to always be a step behind the competition, though, which made Saad Abdul-Salaam a better option. Preseason provided the first glimpse of a completely healthy and rehabbed Myers.

Seth Sinovic

2015 FINISH: 10 starts, 902 minutes played, 0 goals, 0 assists

2016 ROLE: Starting left fullback

SKINNY: A serious head injury sidelined Seth Sinovic last season for the better part of three months. His return to the field felt like an uphill battle, and his play showed. But like Myers, Sinovic is still a quality and seasoned fullback in the league, and he is poised to bounce back in 2016.

Nuno Andre Coelho

2015 FINISH: Member of Turkish club Balikesirspor

2016 ROLE: Starting right centerback

SKINNY: Originally thought to be insurance for Opara, Nuno Coelho is expected to line up next to Besler on Sunday against the Sounders. The 6-foot-4 defender is the brass to Besler’s smarts in the same way Opara can be and how Aurelien Collin was. If the transition to MLS proves to be smooth, he could be a crucial piece this season along the backline and on set pieces.

Ike Opara

2015 FINISH: 6 starts, 534 minutes played, 2 goals, 0 assists

2016 ROLE: Spot starter

SKINNY: Opara was the league’s best defender through March last season before suffering an Achilles’ injury. His recovery has been promising enough, but coach Peter Vermes has stated that the club will take it slow integrating him back into the fray of game action.

Amadou Dia

2015 FINISH: 13 starts, 1,317 minutes played, 0 goals, 1 assist

2016 ROLE: Spot starter

SKINNY: One of two rookie surprises, Amadou Dia was a formidable option once Sinovic went down. He’ll likely earn 13 starts again in 2016, but spread out more across all competitions.

Kevin Ellis

2015 FINISH: 26 starts, 2,335 minutes played, 4 goals, 1 assist

2016 ROLE: Spot starter

SKINNY: Folks who gave Ellis a hard time last season tend to forget that just a few years ago he was a forward in the academy system — and then a fullback as professional — before ever making the jump to centerback. A smaller sample size should do Ellis a world of good in 2016.

Saad Abdul-Salaam

2015 FINISH: 10 starts, 1,074 minutes played, 0 goals, 1 assist

2016 ROLE: Spot starter

SKINNY: Saad Abdul-Salaam has the makings of a serviceable attacking fullback, evident by his contributions a year ago. He’s sneaky quick despite his 6-foot-4 frame, and does surprisingly well with the ball at his feet. Abdul-Salaam’s biggest area of improvement should be his decision making, which was inconsistent at throughout 2015.

Erik Palmer-Brown

On loan with FC Porto in Portugal.

Be sure to check out the other Sporting KC preview:

Goalkeepers

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