2012 Depth Chart: Sporting Kansas City
For the next two weeks, MLSsoccer.com will preview each of the 19 teams in Major League Soccer, beginning with the clubs that brought up the bottom of the table in 2011 and ending with the league's newest addition, the Montreal Impact. This is part two of two previewing Kansas City's 2012 season. You can find Part 1 here.
Depth Chart: 1. Jimmy Nielsen, 2. Eric Kronberg, 3. Jon Kempin
Strengths: Nielsen is a master of positioning, with quick reflexes if he gets caught out. Kronberg, despite being sidelined for four to six weeks with a lower back injury, is a No. 1 waiting to happen, either with Sporting or elsewhere.
Weaknesses: If Nielsen goes down, Kronberg’s injury means that Kempin will be a teenager thrown into a position that rewards age and experience.
Wildcard: This is Kronberg’s last contract year, unless Sporting picks up his option. Will he look to make a move somewhere else with Nielsen signed through 2013?
READ: 2012 Sporting KC Preview
Depth Chart: LB 1. Seth Sinovic, 2. Korede Aiyegbusi; CB Aurélien Collin – Matt Besler, 2. Lawrence Olum, 3. Cyprian Hedrick; RB 1. Chance Myers, 2. Michael Harrington, 3. Kevin Ellis
Strengths: Besler and Collin are a solid tandem in the middle. Myers and Sinovic are both capable of overlapping runs, and Myers has a right winger’s crossing ability.
Weaknesses: Depth remains a question mark, especially in the middle. Sinovic had some problems last year, especially late in matches, with getting beaten at the byline.
Wildcard: If Collin stays healthy and out of yellow-card trouble, this could be a monster season for the tough Frenchman.
Depth Chart: LCM 1. Roger Espinoza, 2. Michael Thomas, Luke Sassano; 3. Paulo Nagamura; CDM 1. Júlio César, 2. Paulo Nagamura, 3. Luke Sassano; RCM 1. Graham Zusi, 2. Konrad Warzycha, 3. Peterson Joseph
Strengths: Sporting are deep and experienced at the defensive mid spot. Espinoza is still aggressive but playing smarter in the holding role. Zusi has emerged as a threat on free kicks and from just about anywhere from distance.
Weaknesses: With no true distributing midfielder, the passing game can break down in the middle third.
Wildcard: Nagamura will be expected to provide box-to-box depth, meaning he could slip into any of the midfield spots as either a sub or a starter. That puts pressure on him to connect quickly with the players around him.
Depth Chart: LF 1. Bobby Convey, 2. Jacob Peterson; CF 1. C.J. Sapong, 2. Teal Bunbury, 3. Soony Saad, 4. Dom Dwyer; RF 1. Kei Kamara, 2. Jacob Peterson
Strengths: Sporting are loaded with quality at the center forward spot, meaning manager Peter Vermes can keep fresh legs in the attack. Convey is back at his natural spot on the left flank, happy to be there and motivated to prove that his old team was wrong to put him at left back. Kamara is dangerous both in wide areas and in the middle.
Weaknesses: Convey is the only true left winger. Vermes must find a way to keep all of his talented target forwards engaged, which might mean a good deal of lineup shuffling.
Wildcard: When he’s on, Bunbury has the ability to be both elegant and deadly. But when he isn’t, he struggles with first touches and creating space in the attacking third.
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting KC for MLSsoccer.com.
WATCH: 2011 Sporting KC Goals