International absences, injuries put Sporting KC's depth to early test
Two starters off on international duty. One starter and a key bench player dinged up. Two significant contributors still on the mend from 2012 surgeries. Four more players on loan.
The MLS season isn't even a month old, and Sporting Kansas City's depth is already being put to the test.
Now is as good a time as any, though, manager Peter Vermes told MLSsoccer.com after Tuesday's training session.
“You never want to lose anybody. You always want to have your full complement,” Vermes said. “But it's reality, and in the long run – whether it's experience, whether it's seeing how other guys fit in, all of that stuff is going to be good.
“We've got a lot of games coming up, and we're going to have to use a lot of different players,” he added. “Whether they're getting that experience now or later, it's probably six of one and half a dozen of the other. But I do believe it's good that they get it now.”
On Monday, Kansas City had center back Matt Besler and midfielder Graham Zusi called into camp for the US national team's upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Costa Rica and Mexico. Starting right back Chance Myers missed Saturday's scoreless draw with Chicago after aggravating a quad strain, and midfielder Peterson Joseph is nursing a bruised knee but is expected to return to training at midweek.
Also, Vermes said Tuesday that it will be some time before forwards Jacob Peterson (shoulder) and Teal Bunbury (ACL) are cleared to play.
Mechack Jerome played well at right back against the Fire and should get the nod if Myers can't return to the XI for this weekend's match at New England.
Vermes said Tuesday he has not yet settled on replacements for Besler and Zusi.
Sporting, who have qualified for the 2013-14 CONCACAF Champions League by winning last year's US Open Cup, haven't been in three competitions since 2009. That year, the then-Wizards reached the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open Cup and were eliminated in the group stage of the now-defunct SuperLiga.
This year, because of his club's affiliation with (and loan of four players to) USL Pro side Orlando City, Vermes won't have the luxury of MLS Reserve League matches to give less frequently used players game experience.
Also, because of CONCACAF play and the selection of Sporting Park for the 2013 MLS All-Star Game, Sporting president Robb Heineman has said the club will not schedule any international exhibitions.
“We're going to continue to try to put some games together to get some of the guys 90 minutes that don't get 90 minutes all the time,” Vermes said. “But right now, with the number of injuries and the number of guys that are gone, it doesn't make sense. We need all those guys for the games on the weekend. But as time goes on and we start getting some of those guys back, we'll probably implement some of these games as we move forward.”