KANSAS CITY, Mo. – For most teams, the decision of how many key players to commit to US Open Cup competition becomes a balancing act.
For Sporting Kansas City, who host Seattle on Wednesday in Kansas City’s first Cup final since 2004, it’s a matter of figuring out which players are even healthy enough for sustained action in what could be a 120-minute outing.
Manager Peter Vermes, whose team has already been chomped on hard by the injury bug, had some more bad news on Tuesday:
Midfielder Roger Espinoza, who rejoined Sporting this week after a strong showing in the London Olympics, has a banged-up shoulder – not severe enough to keep him out of the final, but enough to concern the team about his availability for impending league action.
“He was actually dealing with a little in [last Saturday’s] Brazil game as well,” Vermes said in a pre-Cup conference call. “He's gone through a lot. Roger is a beast, though. He finds a way.”
And though Sporting have an important MLS Eastern Conference matchup with D.C. United looming on Saturday, they’ll need Espinoza to step up against Seattle’s three-time defending champions in Wednesday’s final at Livestrong Sporting Park (9 pm ET, GolTV).
“Whether he's going to have enough for the entire game and come the following weekend, that's something that we're going to have to assess as we go through each game,” Vermes said. “He's an important guy and a strong guy, but it's something we have to assess as we get closer to the game.”
WATCH: Zusi, Besler and Espinoza on USOC final
Vermes is always loath to discuss lineups before any match, but one safe bet for Wednesday is that Lawrence Olum will replace Aurélien Collin – who was suspended for yellow-card accumulation even before he sustained facial fractures in the MLS All-Star Game – at center back.
Wingers Bobby Convey (hamstring) and Jacob Peterson (shoulder sprain) are also doubtful, at best. Less certain is whether right back Chance Myers (groin strain) and center forward C.J. Sapong (abductor strain) have recovered well enough to play.
“We've used quite a few different lineups and we'll have to do the same tomorrow night,” Vermes said. “We're going to put everything on the line and every guy will give everything they have."
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.