Friday, June 15, 2012

Busy Schedule and Injuries Test Sporting KC's Depth

Article by William Schulz

The Major League Soccer drought is finally over, and the monsoon is about to begin. Most clubs will be playing three matches in the first week back, Sporting Kansas City among them. In fact Sporting will play five matches to close out the month of June, and they’ll have to play those matches without some of their marquee players.

The most difficult loss will be that of Matt Besler, who had an emergency appendectomy on June 8. The surgery could potentially keep the center back out for the rest of the month, though it seems likely he will return earlier. Besler has been an ever-present figure in Sporting’s stingy back line this season, starting in all of KC’s league games to date.

The two primary candidates to replace Besler are defenders Lawrence Olum and Konrad Warzycha. Unfortunately, both candidates have some rather glaring flaws. Olum has yet to impress as a defender in reserve matches, and hasn’t even played the position when brought on as a substitute for the first team. Warzycha played in central defense against Orlando City during the U.S. Open Cup, but looked extremely shaky and far from ready for first team action. Another option is Julio Cesar, but without Paulo Nagamura (currently listed as questionable for Saturday) to fill his midfield role I think it is unlikely Cesar will be called upon.

Another question mark for Sporting KC is the configuration at the top of their usual 4-3-3 formation. On the left side, Bobby Convey is listed as questionable as is Jacob Peterson, his typical substitute. On the right side, Kei Kamara is still in Sierra Leone and has an African Cup of Nations qualifier that will keep him out of the lineup for Sporting’s match with Toronto FC, if not longer. Forwards C.J. Sapong and Soony Saad are likely the favorites to fill those gaps, with the newly in-form Teal Bunbury taking the central position.
Sporting Kansas City has one of the busiest upcoming schedules in all of Major League Soccer, with a whopping seventeen potential matches in fifty-six days. The MLS transfer window opens in that time frame and may potentially bring some relief, but right now fans in Kansas City can only hope these injuries are short-lived.

Sporting resumes league play on Saturday, June 16 against Toronto FC followed by two road matches in Seattle and Philadelphia the following Wednesday and Saturday. In preseason many called this week the toughest on the schedule, and with these injuries it looks like that analysis may be correct.



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