KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Facing the prospect of slowing down Kei Kamara and Chance Myers is about as daunting as it comes from a physical perspective for left backs in Major League Soccer.
Athletically speaking, Kamara and Myers fall under the category of bigger, faster and stronger than all but a few players who line up against them. And if those physical gifts weren’t enough to put defenses on their heels, the two have developed a unique understanding over the course of this season, making it extremely difficult to contain Kansas City’s attacking prowess from their right flank.
“It just starts from trusting each other,” Myers said. “If I am going to go and make the overlap and he comes inside to get the ball, whether or not we thread the needle and get a cross off or lose the ball, we know we’re going to be there to cover for each other. Having that trust allows us to have a free range of movement.”
As many sides have found out the hard way this season, freedom is the last thing you want to give Sporting’s marauding duo.
That won’t be any different at Livestrong Sporting Park on Wednesday (8:30 pm, watch LIVE online) when the Columbus Crew become the next team to tackle the task of slowing down two players who have combined to torment the opposition with their pace, strength and combination play all season long.
After three injury-plagued years to start his career, Myers has settled into manager Peter Vermes’ starting lineup at right back, starting 20 games for Kansas City and establishing himself as one of the most explosive attacking backs in MLS.
Playing just ahead of him is Kamara, who is quietly putting together a second-straight standout campaign with eight goals and four assists, despite being asked to put in a full shift on both sides of the ball.
At 6-foot-3 and 185 pounds, the Sierra Leone international doesn’t fit the bill for your typical flanker. Yet Kamara’s stature has allowed him to develop into a player who is a nightmare to mark both with the ball at his feet and in the penalty area since arriving in Kansas City.
“The way our system is, it always puts most teams in a mismatch situation with a guy like [Kei],” Vermes said. “I think the only team that has a guy that’s even remotely close to his size is Seattle with Tyson Wahl when he’s playing left back. Outside of that, with everyone else it’s just a physical mismatch.”
That’s no different with Myers, who comes in at an even six feet and has added a layer of muscle to his frame and an extra gear from a fitness perspective since Vermes made him the No. 1 overall pick in the 2008 SuperDraft.
“Chance just keeps coming,” Vermes said. “He seems to get stronger as the game goes on. That becomes a very difficult player to deal with. You have to respect that he’s coming forward and if you lose him, it could hurt you.”
Keeping an eye on both will surely be a primary concern for Robert Warzycha’s midfield and back line tonight as the two teams play for what is effectively first place in the Eastern Conference. And with the Crew likely to put numbers behind the ball, Sporting are going to have to rely heavily on their dynamic duo to find a way break down Columbus while providing a deterrent to the counterattack.
Fortunately, that’s no more than what’s been expected of Kamara and Myers all season.
“You have the best of both worlds with the way those two guys play together,” Vermes said.