Sporting KC's Erik Palmer-Brown learns harsh lessons in MLS debut, vows to be "ready" upon return
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Erik Palmer-Brown will have some time to ponder the lessons – some harsh, some confidence-boosting – from his MLS debut. He plans to put them to good use when he returns to the pitch.
The 17-year-old center back will have to sit out Sporting Kansas City's home match against Toronto FC on Friday, after picking up a second yellow card in the 64th minute of Sunday's 2-1 away loss to Chicago. But with Sporting still thin in the back line, due to injuries and international absences, Palmer-Brown wants to be ready when he's called on for his sophomore outing.
“My mentality's going to be different,” Palmer-Brown told reporters after Tuesday's training session. “The nerves going through me settled down in the second half. It's hard to get those two yellow cards, but I felt like I started to calm down in the second half. I feel like I'll be ready for the next game. I want to get that next game under me for sure. The debut wasn't what I wanted it to be, so I want to get out there and show the fans what I can do.”
Part of that preparation for the next outing will be reviewing the things that went right – and wrong – on Sunday.
“It's not a hard thing because you learn,” he said. “You really do. You learn a lot. Being in there those 64 minutes, I learned a lot as a player. It's changed my approach at things, and being young I feel like I still have room to grow.”
One lesson Palmer-Brown learned the hard way: maintaining a physical presence but reining in aggressive play. In addition to the two yellow cards, he also conceded a penalty in the 15th minute that led to Mike Magee's second goal for the Fire.
“I've got to be less aggressive and more mentally aware of the things around me,” he said. “Make sure I do my job and make sure the team is organized in front of me. We were playing a new formation, and playing that 3-5-2 was a little different from what I'm used to, with the four backs. But I expect the same performance out of myself.”
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Sporting were in the 3-5-2 because Palmer was the only available center back for Sunday's match. His mandatory suspension for being sent off could leave Kansas City with no natural central defenders for the TFC match, but manager Peter Vermes said Aurelien Collin and defensive midfielder Uri Rosell – who can play in the back line in a pinch – could return from injury in time for Friday's contest.
“I would say both of those guys are progressing forward,” Vermes told MLSsoccer.com on Tuesday. “I can't speak right now, until Friday, about what it looks like for either of them. The hope is to get them both back, but we've got to be smart about it because we've got a quick turnaround on Tuesday. So we'll have to make the decision based on both games, not one.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.