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Who Can Play Against Toronto?

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It’s not new but Sporting KC is still short handed with injuries and International duty. How will Vermes piece together a starting 11?

Thad Bell

Sporting Kansas City did well to pick up a point on the road against the Houston Dynamo on Saturday night. The team was playing on only two days rest and still didn’t have enough healthy players to field a full 18. After Saturday’s 1-1 draw, the attention of the team, Peter Vermes and staff will turn to Toronto. Sporting head up north to face Toronto FC Friday night June 7 at 6:00pm.

That would be difficult matchup under normal circumstances, but will be made more difficult due to the fact that Sporting will be missing four players that will be gone for duty with their national team. Krisztian Nemeth and Botond Barath will be playing for Hungary, Johnny Russell with be with Scotland and Nicolas Hasler with be playing for Liechtenstein. What will Sporting do to fill those four spots along with the continued players out due to injury?

The easiest spot to fill will be for Nicolas Hasler at right back. That spot should be filled by a hopefully healthy Graham Zusi. The veteran Zusi will be comfortable being back in his preferred position after coming in as a sub for Daniel Salloi on the wing in the second half against Houston.

It could be assumed that Yohan Croizet will be back at center forward to fill the place of Sporting’s leading goal scorer Krisztian Nemeth. Croizet played in the CF position for Nemeth in the two matches he recently missed for a red card suspension.

Daniel Salloi will cover one wing while Kelyn Rowe could possibly fill in for Johnny Russell on the other side. Rowe had been playing on the wing for the injured Salloi for several matches and will possibly slide over to cover for Russell. Rowe has had a difficult time finding the back of the net, but has shown some good word ethic and has good soccer IQ in many positions on the field.

The most difficult position to figure out is trying to fill the absence of Botond Barath in the defense. Andreu Fontas and Matt Besler have both been hampered by injuries recently. Fontas did come in as a sub for Graham Smith in the Houston game, but Besler was not in the 18 in Houston after he felt uncomfortable in training. The best case scenario is that Besler and Fontas would both be able to play in Toronto, but that will depend on their health and current fitness level. If either of them are unable to play Graham Smith will be able to slide into one of those spots. Heaven help us if they are both unable to play as there are no more center backs on the roster after the Abdul Rwatubyaye trade!

Trying to figure out the bench will be difficult. Gianluca Busio and Jimmy Medranda should be available. Wan Kuzain is off of the injury list so he should be available. Gerso Fernandes is rumored to be close to being able to come back to play. Tyler Freeman and Gedion Zelalem are others that may be available to fill spots on the bench. The backup goalkeeper, either Zendejas or Dick, would round out a complete 18 if all of these are players were able to suit up in Toronto. Although, it hasn’t been uncommon for Sporting to not have a full 18 available recently.

One good thing is that Toronto should also be missing a few important players. Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley have both been called up to the United States Men’s National team for a match against Jamaica that will be played on June 5th in Washington D.C. Altidore has five goals and three assists in the nine games he has played this season. Bradley has two goals and two assists in his 12 matches. Toronto FC will have firepower still available in Alejandro Pozuelo who has five goals and six assists in his 11 matches this season.

Sporting will have a lot of shoes to fill when they head to Canada Friday, but should still have talented experienced players ready to go. The match will be available to watch on Fox Sports KC Plus June 7th at 6:00 PM.