The camaraderie and chemistry are already back.
The legs? Not quite.
Kei Kamara's training session on Tuesday, his first with Sporting Kansas City since his weekend return from a loan to Premiership side Norwich City, proved a little more taxing than the winger had expected. Still, manager Peter Vermes said, he's likely to suit up when Sporting host Seattle on Wednesday night (8:30 pm ET, watch on MLS Live).
“I think there's a good chance he'll be in the 18,” Vermes said. “But if you're asking if he's starting, I'm telling you no.”
Kamara returned from England on Sunday, after Norwich declined the purchase option on his loan.
When he took the training pitch on Tuesday, he told MLSsoccer.com, “It was like I never left. But it's kind of hot over here, and I was struggling.”
Still, Kamara – who came off the bench for the Canaries in their 2-1 loss to Aston Villa on Saturday – hopes to be in uniform on Wednesday.
“I want to play, but I don't know what [Vermes] is going to make me do,” he said. “My legs felt a little heavy, so I just have to get some sleep and see how I feel after I'm done.”
When Kamara gets back to full speed, that will give Sporting one more option in an already-crowded forward corps that has yet to reach full strength – even with Dom Dwyer on loan to Orlando City SC and leading USL Pro in scoring.
Center forward Claudio Bieler, the only new member of the group, scored twice in Sunday's 4-0 romp over shorthanded Chivas USA and shares the league lead with six goals this season. Graham Zusi, playing on the right wing, is MLS' co-leader with four assists. C.J. Sapong, who has taken over on the left wing, got his first goal of the season late in the Chivas match.
Jacob Peterson, finally back from offseason shoulder surgery, made his first start of the year on Sunday and should contend for time at several forward spots. Veteran Bobby Convey, who has played sparingly since the early going and is now dealing with calf and Achilles strains, is expected to be available in another week. Soony Saad has been solid and energetic off the bench, also in a winger role.
And while Vermes doesn't expect him to return to game action for another month, center forward Teal Bunbury began training with the rest of the club this week as he continues to come back from a season-ending ACL tear in 2012.
“It's feeling good,” Bunbury said. “I'm still dealing with a little pain here and there, but overall it's feeling good. I'm just trying to take my time and make sure I'm feeling right when I'm out there,”
The repaired ligament itself is fine, Bunbury said, but he has a small rough patch on the underside of his kneecap that occasionally cause him some pain.
“That's where I got my patellar tendon graft,” he said. “It's a little area. I'm just trying to get rid of that pain, because it's causing me to not be where I want to be.”
With three levels of competition this season – MLS, their U.S. Open Cup title defense and the group stage of the 2013-14 CONCACAF Champions League – Sporting could certainly use the depth. But with so many candidates, will there be enough minutes to go around even in a loaded schedule?
Vermes thinks so, even if he has to shuffle some players – Zusi in particular – from the front line to the midfield.
“I think everything is up for grabs,” he said. “I don't think anything is out of the decision-making process.”