Sporting Kansas City’s depth has been challenged lately with a string of injuries that has seen 15 players on the injury report for at least one game so far.
Unfortunately, it has not just been a game or two in a lot of cases, at least not for a couple of the key contributors. Felipe Gutierrez has been out since April 8th and Jimmy Medranda since May 27th.
Gutierrez came out strong scoring five goals in five games and still looked good when he had a bit of injury. When they opted to have surgery to repair a “sports hernia-like” injury on May 5th, the prognosis was 2-3 months with it being more likely a full three months would be missed.
Medranda has been out with a bone bruise and unable to train much at all since the end of May.
Cristian Lobato had one of his best, okay quite possibly his best game for Sporting KC against Minnesota on June 3rd and has not been in the 18 since. Tendinitis in his knee has kept him sidelined.
Those three players really hurt the depth of Sporting KC. Gutierrez can play any of the three midfield spots but with Ilie having d-mid locked up he was doing great as an attacker.
Medranda and Lobato can play several spots and were being counted on to fill in where needed. From left back to attacking mid to winger, those injuries removed a lot of options for SKC.
So the good news is they are all on their way back. Okay, from the moment you are hurt and start healing you are on the way back but in this case they have all taken a step forward this week.
SKC manager Peter Vermes told The Blue Testament this week:
“Khiry is probably out for some time. At least a month’.
“Ike is good, I think he will be fine for this weekend.”
“Gutierrez and Busio joined full training.”
“Medranda and Lobato are making a big progression this week in that they are starting to do some running. Those guys are on the mend and taking a big step forward.”
“He (Medranda) is the longest one. He will take the longest of any of the guys at the moment, other than Khiry.”
Gutierrez had started to re-join training last week but it was primarily warm-ups and minor drills. This week it’s full training. Now the first training day this week was Tuesday and it was soccer tennis, not scrimmages or hard drills and Gutierrez did well (even winning soccer-tennis with Diego Rubio). Since then no issues have been reported.
So, when do we see the Chilean midfielder make a game day roster? Good question even if I ask that of myself. He was tentatively scheduled to be ready for the first game in August on the 4th at Houston.
There are some signs he may be available sooner than that though. Gutierrez was able to do some fitness work during his time out of training but could not do a lot of soccer movements or any contact, they had to wait for the scar tissue to heal and then soften and become more flexible.
This is not any official word (at least not yet), but I would not be surprised to him make the bench in the next week and would (barring any setbacks) expect him in the lineup by July 28th versus Dallas.
Of course this does make it look like he will be ready sooner rather than later.
Lobato and Medranda
They are not even back in training yet, just starting to run again so it will be awhile with Medranda taking the longest to get game shape because he has been out the longest. So no estimate on them just yet but certainly not in the next couple weeks.
Now the bad news, Shelton hurt his knee shortly after subbing in the game versus Toronto. Playing just 9 minutes before coming back out of the game. He was being looked at this week and Vermes thought he would be out for at least a month. It sounds like is having (or maybe already had) some surgery to repair minor damage.
While it sounds like he will be absent at least a month, it is not long term and not season ending.
The talented 16-year-old has not played in an MLS match yet, he did get time in an Open Cup game and held his own. While he is not expected to be counted on for serious MLS minutes just yet, having him back does at least give SKC more options and someone who can slide into the attacking mid or a winger spot in a crunch.
I am adding Opara to this list, more out of fear than anything else. Opara left the last game limping but was in practice this week and Vermes expects him to be available for the weekend but I would also not be surprised if Ike got a game off for rest and precaution.