Sporting Kansas City’s squad depth will be tested early in the season Saturday against New England. Key players from the midfield and defense, Graham Zusi and Matt Besler, will be with the US national squad for World Cup qualification matches, and injuries to several other important contributors have made manager Peter Vermes’ job difficult within the first month of the 2013 MLS season, made even tougher with news that Spanish midfielder Oriol Rosell will be out with a head contusion as well.
Rosell, a 2012 signing from Barcelona, has shown great potential coming more to the forefront this season so far and with the absence of Zusi and Jacob Peterson (shoulder injury) also out in the midfield Vermes will be likely to hand an opportunity Lawrence Olum in a deep midfield role, with playing time possibly given to MLS rookie Mikey Lopez. Vermes has kept a positive mindset, pointing out that the opportunity for early experience can come in handy later in the season.
“We’ve got a lot of games coming up, and we’re going to have to use a lot of different players,” Vermes told MLSsoccer.com Tuesday. “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.”
As of Tuesday, Vermes had not decided on replacements for national team call-ups Besler and Zusi, but options will be shrinking as more players are ruled out. If Chance Myers were deemed fit to play it would be a big lift to the squad.
While Zusi and Besler will be back following the United States’ match against Mexico, Peterson and forward Teal Bunbury are expected to absent for some time. This will put an even greater amount of pressure on new Designated Player, and Sporting KC’s leading scorer, Claudio Bieler, Benny Feilhaber and others to get a positive result against New England and keep Sporting KC in a strong early season position.
Teal Bunbury (left knee sprain)
Jacob Peterson (right shoulder sprain)
Oriol Rosell (head contusion)
Chance Myers (left quad strain)
Date: Saturday, March 23
Time: 3 p.m. CT
Location: Gillette Stadium (Foxborough, Mass.)
TV: KSMO, WIBW (Topeka), KZOU (Columbia), Direct Kick
Radio: ESPN 1510, La Gran D 1340 AM
Watch Party: Boulevard Members Club at Sporting Park (Doors open at 2 PM C.T.)