Uri Rosell has been one of the cogs of Sporting Kansas City's defense for the past couple of years, acting as both the first line of defense and also as a major distributor for the offense. In the weeks since he first was injured, Sporting Kansas City has had problems defensively and the attack hasn't been as strong because Benny Feilhaber has had to pick up the slack defensively. Now that Rosell is gone for good, how does Sporting Kansas City adjust with it's current personnel?
First of all, let's take a look at the short-term problems where Sporting Kansas City does not have many good defensive options. If they slot Lawrence Olum into the centerback role, Benny Feilhaber has to continue to play the defensive role he's been playing for the past several weeks.
This formation really dilutes the attack because Feilhaber is having to play defense instead of creating up top. Martinez has been good so far and Nagamura is always solid but none can replicate the offensive prowess of Feilhaber. So, in the short-term, Vermes is going to have to decide whether he wants to prioritize defense or offense. If he prioritizes offense, a move to a 3-5-2 could work.
Sporting KC was able to use the 3-5-2 to control possession against Chicago and create some chances but also had a lot of defensive breakdowns. In a case where Sporting Kansas City is going to go against a weak defense or a weak offense, a 3-5-2 might work. It allows Feilhaber to create for two forwards and for Olum to be a distributor in the back.
So what happens when Graham Zusi and Matt Besler return? If they slot Lawrence Olum into Rosell's spot, Sporting KC can return to some semblance of their best XI.
This allows Feilhaber to be the creative midfielder he's used to being. It also gives a solid front three with Zusi and Dovale on the wings. With all of the injuries this year, this is probably the best XI that Sporting KC can throw out.
There will be more instances this year, however, where the best XI cannot be put into the lineup. Specifically, when Lawrence Olum gets called up for Kenya again. He started both African Cup of Nations Qualifiers for Kenya against Comoros, so it can be assumed he'll be called into action for the second round games against Lesotho in late July and early August. In this case, Vermes can do one of two things.
This is very similar to what Sporting Kansas City has been doing lately by putting Feilhaber in a more defensive role. It limits midfield potential on the attack but with Zusi back on the wing Sporting KC has better chances than they do with Feilhaber in a defensive role now.
If they want to really get the best of both worlds with the midfield, they could move Graham Zusi back into the midfield, like the formation below.
Sporting KC did this a couple of times in 2013 but the lack of true wingers really diluted the front line's attack. With Zizzo and Dovale now on the squad, Zusi is able to move to center attacking midfielder and create for them. The attack can still be potent and Sporting can continue to score goals.
It's been a rough month with everything going on for Sporting KC. Rosell's transfer doesn't help that but Olum's return helps tremendously. When Zusi and Besler return the team will be in great shape with lots of options as to how to proceed throughout the rest of the season.