It was another stellar year for the Sporting Kansas City defense as they allowed the fewest goals in the league. In our first review of the defense we looked at the contributions of the center backs, each of whom contributed to that record. This time, we take a look at the three full backs who manned the sides and contributed some offense as well under Peter Vermes' system. They all did reasonably well and there's something to be said about the consistency of the back line, who has had the same back four starters for the past two years.
Seth Sinovic is always the kind of guy who might deserve man of the match but is never in the discussion. I like to describe him as "quietly effective." He provided consistently good defense on the left side this season without making too much noise, unlike his counterpart Chance Myers. He made some mistakes throughout the season like every defender does, such as the slip that allowed Houston to score in the Eastern Conference final. The thing about his mistakes, however, was that they all stood out. Seth has been so characteristically mistake-free throughout this career that when he does make a mistake, they stand out like a sore thumb.
There have been some actions from Sinovic this season that would put him into the highlight reels, however. They all revolved around his reflexes and standing in the goal to prevent a set piece goal that was just out of the reach of Jimmy Nielsen. He did this a couple of times in 2013 and it proved big for the team. He also came up big in the playoffs, scoring a scorching goal to tie up the Eastern Conference semifinal and converting his penalty kick in the MLS Cup. Overall Sinovic isn't going to make the highlight reel often, but his consistently good defending was a huge part in Sporting's great defense.
Nutcracker performance: A+
Chance Myers is the more recognizable full back because he's the one that is making things happen, good or bad. Early on in the season Myers struggled a bit and mis-marked some of his targets, leading to chances and goals. To be fair, he was also battling an injury in the first part of the season. It was obvious that he wasn't playing to his full potential early but he overcame that as the season wore on. He played well on the right side in one-on-one situations and was a real force bringing the ball up the flank and making crosses into the box. While his defense has historically not been as good as Sinovic's, his skill on offense balances it out.
He had the best offensive game of his career this year when he score his first two MLS goals in a losing effort to Portland and steadily improved as the season went on. He was a scapegoat for goals early on in the season but that label faded as we reached the late summer and fall matches. His defending in the playoffs was impeccable and he stepped up strong in the MLS Cup, converting his PK attempt. Overall his early struggles hurt, but his resiliency and improvement gives him a strong grade.
Much like Ike Opara, Jerome came into Sporting Kansas City with few expectations and was only supposed to be a backup for Myers. When Myers couldn't play due to his injury, Jerome stepped up admirably in his place. He even garnered some support for him to be the regular starter over Myers but that died down once Myers started playing well again. It was almost a shame that Myers was playing so well because we rarely got to see Jerome during the summer and fall matches. With the way he had been playing, he deserved more time and if the circumstances were different I'd be happy to give more playing time to him.
We end up with a small sample size for which to judge Jerome. He didn't have many expectations when he came into the league and wasn't expected to play as well as he did when he stepped in. He contributed a lot to the team in the early months and was ready to step in as the season wore on. Because he exceeded the little expectations we had for him, he gets a very high grade.
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