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A depleted Sporting KC roster prepares for CONCACAF Champions League play

Injuries and rest may pave the way for Mikey Lopez and Eric Kronberg to get some playing time Wednesday in Nicaragua against Real Estelí.


"We're getting thinner by the moment."

For Sporting KC enthusiasts, those aren't the words you want to hear from manager Peter Vermes as the squad prepares for a crucial week that includes the opener of the CONCACAF Champions League and an Eastern Conference match-up with New England - a team eying its first MLS playoff berth since 2009.

Vermes' quote follows the team's announcement that fullback Kevin Ellis will be unavailable Wednesday against Real Estelí in Nicaragua due to a hip injury. Ellis' spot on the injury chart follows midfielder Graham Zusi's quad strain, midfielder Paulo Nagamura's ankle sprain, and left back Josh Gardner's nagging hamstring. The alarming list of injuries itself follows suit of a number of players that Vermes says "need a little rest."

"We've got some other guys with some nicks and little issues here and there. Then we've got some other guys who maybe need a little rest because they've played so much, so it's just a lot of different things. I was hoping to be in a different place with all the guys, but we'll have to manage it."

Though Vermes did not say who he plans to put in the starting XI Wednesday (or who he will be resting for that matter), the frontman has teased the idea of giving midfielder Mikey Lopez and goalkeeper Eric Kronberg some valuable minutes in this year's CCL tournament.

Both Kronberg and Lopez sounded optimistic Monday when asked about the possibility of starting Wednesday in Nicaragua.

"It's what I'm hoping for," said Kronberg, who started twice during Sporting KC's short stent in the U.S. Open Cup. "That's kind of been the plan all along. So of course I'm looking forward to it, but I have no idea what it's going to be like because I haven't been through it. Hopefully we can go down there and get a good result, so we can bring the team back home and move ahead in our group."

Lopez, on the other hand, noted to the media that his past play in Central and South America with the U20 U.S. Men's National Team should help him coming into the CCL. "It should definitely help me be used to the speed of play and how they play, and how their cheekiness and cleverness is - going down easily and stuff like that," he said. "It's always best to play as the visiting team in a different country, because everyone's going to hate you and that inspires you and motivates you to play a lot better."

Despite Sporting KC's roster thinning out during this busy month of August, which includes five MLS and two CCL matches , Peter Vermes assures everyone that his squad will be fine.

"We'll deal with it. We'll figure it out."