Sporting Kansas City is going through another run of injuries that will test their depth. Manager Peter Vermes acknowledged Friday that they may not even be able to field a full 18 for the match versus Portland on Sunday.
Matt Besler can't play because of the rules around the MLS All Star game. He strained his MCL so he didn't play in the All Star game and MLS rules stipulate he cannot play in the next league game either. When asked if he could have played Sunday (if MLS did not have the rule forbidding it), Vermes said he was unsure. The team knew he couldn't play so they factored that time into his treatment.
When asked who else was unavailable, Vermes started listing a large chunk of the team. Nuno Coelho, Justin Mapp, Brad Davis, Paulo Nagamura, Graham Zusi and possibly Jacob Peterson are out for Sunday.
Some of those players did practice Friday in varying levels of involvement but are probably not ready (with the possible exception of Peterson) to play.
With that many out, who is left?
Keepers: Melia and Kann (2)
Defenders: Abdul-Salaam, Ellis, Medranda, Myers, Olum, Opara and Sinovic (7)
Midfielders: Appiah, Espinoza, Feilhaber and Mustivar (4)
Forwards: Dwyer, Hallissey Porter, Rubio and ‘maybe' Peterson (4 or 5)
It sounds like Peterson is the only question mark; if he cannot go it looks like Sporting KC will dress 17.
Also unavailable due to loans: Alvarado, Kempin, Palmer-Brown and Salloi
Call up players from the B team!
Great idea! If only it was that easy. The Swope Park Rangers have several players that could play at the MLS level but the roster rules only allow call ups for Open Cup, Champions League and in the case of "Extreme Hardship".
A MLS team has to be below 15 players available to call a player up under the hardship rules.
So no help from the Rangers...
With so few forwards, play a 4-4-2!
Another great idea!
Fans have been wanting, almost begging at times to see both Dwyer and Rubio on the pitch at the same time and not just passing each other as subs. With Vermes' reluctance to play Rubio as a winger (he is not a wide player) a 4-4-2 would get the two biggest scoring threats on the field together. Most likely that would take the form of a 4-4-1-1 with Dwyer up top and Rubio underneath, linking up the mid and providing a threat from a little further out.
When asked about this in the past, Vermes said he was willing to switch it up but he wanted them to have some time to train in that formation. Well there has been a full week to train since the last match and Vermes knew they were short-handed so it seems like a good time to try it. Right?
Ok, no. At least probably not...
While you never know, it does not seem likely for this match at least. The one downside to switching to a 4-4-2 is you need another midfielder. Well just slide Zusi or Davis or Nagamura in next to the regular three.
Oh yeah, they are unavailable also.
Appiah is a mid and he is available but changing up the formation and relying on a player recently picked up off of waivers does not seem like a recipe for success or a move Vermes would make unless desperate.
So what options are left?
Sticking with the normal formation and probably starting the same defense and midfield that has played well over the last few games is a fairly safe bet.
The question is up top on offense. Dwyer or Rubio in the middle flanked by Hallisey and Porter is one answer (and a safe bet). Hallisey has played fairly well with the exception of scoring. That lack of scoring success has seemed to give him a lack of confidence in the shooting department.
Porter is new to the team but proved he could play well in his limited time against Seattle. Not sure that he is 90 minute "Sporting Fit" but he could give some solid minutes up there.
Vermes could move Medranda up and start Sinovic at left back. Medranda has played the wing role some and he is another one that fans are dreaming to get more involved in the attack. But do we really think Vermes will mess with the back four unless it involves giving a player rest?
Another option from the defense is Myers, he played forward some for Kansas City after he was drafted. In Vermes' 4-3-3 the outside backs overlap the wingers often and are almost interchangeable with wingers at times. Myers is used to being in the attack and with his natural defensive abilities he could replace Peterson as the defensive forward.
Ellis is another option, he has played forward and been in the system for long enough to move around in the formation and know what needs to be done.
What will Vermes do?
What should he do?