When referee Baldomero Toledo reached for his pocket after Matt Besler's foul on Bradley Wright-Phillips in last Sundays match, everyone was already calculating who would replace him. Not just in the match but the following match in Dallas as well.
There were two defenders that can play center back on the bench, Vermes and staff quickly had Erik Palmer-Brown warming up. Benny Feilhaber shifted back to defense for a few minutes, not a position anyone would have predicted he play a couple years ago.
With Ike Opara organizing the defense and Feilhaber filling in, the Sporting KC defense held. Vermes ended up subbing Jacob Peterson in for Nemeth before he made the eventual sub for of Palmer-Brown came on for Graham Zusi at the 85th minute.
For today's match in Dallas, who does Vermes partner with Opara?
Kevin Ellis - Kevin became a truly valuable sub last year when he filled in at every defensive position during Sporting KC's epic injury plague. Will he do it again today? He is capable, shorter than the normal center back but has great jumping ability and has shown he can do it. The downside is he is coming off resting from concussion symptoms and none of the back line he helped last year is there today (except maybe Sinovic).
Jalil Anibaba - The most MLS experienced center back option with over 100 games played in the league and much of it as a center back. Sporting KC acquired him for these situations, to provide depth when someone was out. The downside is he did not seem to impress in preseason and when Vermes had the choice of a fifth year vet and a 17 year old kid, he went with the 17 year old kid.
Erik Palmer-Brown - Another option is that 17 year old that does not play like a 17 year old most of the time. Ike Opara could not speak higher of him this week at the press conference and he did not make many mistakes in his last couple appearances. While Juventus is so interested in him, he is still young and Vermes may want more experience on the road.
Benny Feilhaber - Not a very likely choice but then again Benny likes challenges. Last week when he filled in, Opara yelled at him to move and Benny stayed where he was and intercepted a ball. Benny knew where the pass was going.