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Sporting expect to suffer big roster hit during Gold Cup

Teal Bunbury scored a brace on Vancouver.

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Sporting Kansas City manager Peter Vermes says he expects to be without five players during next month’s CONCACAF Gold Cup, including star forward Teal Bunbury.

During his weekly press conference on Thursday, Vermes told reporters that Craig Rocastle (Grenada), Stéphane Auvray (Guadeloupe), Roger Espinoza (Honduras), Shavar Thomas (Jamaica) and Bunbury (United States) could all receive call-ups from their respective national teams for the regional competition beginning in early June.

Such a roster hit would leave Sporting without as many as three starters in Bunbury, Espinoza and Auvray and missing critical depth in Rocastle and Thomas. It’s a situation the club has been aware of for months, but one that still comes at an inopportune time.

“We knew this was going to be the case,” Vermes said. “Everybody has the same issue come September, October and November with [World Cup] qualification games. It’s part of national team duty, it’s part of the way we go into the year. It’s nothing that we haven’t seen before.”

Even though the absences were predictable, Kansas City’s current situation provides an additional twist as they face opening LIVESTRONG Sporting Park without some of their biggest draws, most notably Bunbury, should he be called upon.

Just as players join their respective national teams to begin Gold Cup group play, Kansas City will be returning home for the inaugural game at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park while trying to dig themselves out of an early hole, the result of starting the season with nine games on the road.

So while the timing isn’t ideal and there will be plenty of holes to fill, Vermes said the team will press on, forced to turn to the roster depth they’ve carefully cultivated during an opening two-and-a-half months rife with injury and suspension.

“What am I going to say?” Vermes said. “It would be great to have everybody here. That’s obvious, but it is what it is.”

Bravo to see field this weekend, Arnaud questionable

One of the players Sporting will lean on should Bunbury be called up is Omar Bravo, who participated in full training this week and should be ready to make a substitute appearance on Saturday night against Seattle.

Vermes said Bravo had looked good in training and showed no signs of lingering issues from sports-hernia surgery. Still, the Mexican striker is not yet game fit and is likely destined for a role off the bench, depending on the direction of the game.

“You’ll see him,” Vermes said. "I just don’t know where, when and how.”

On the other hand, captain Davy Arnaud’s status is questionable. He is suffering from an issue with his neck that has curtailed his participation this week.

Vermes said he would make a game-day decision on Saturday to determine whether or not Arnaud was fit enough to play against Seattle.

“It flared up on Tuesday,” Arnaud said, “so I’m trying to do everything I can to hopefully play.”