KANSAS CITY, Mo. — With 11 days between their fourth-round US Open Cup match and the resumption of MLS play, Sporting Kansas City manager Peter Vermes said he would put the best possible team on the pitch for Tuesday’s match against the Colorado Rapids at Livestrong Sporting Park (8:30 pm ET).
“I want to stay in as much of a routine as I possibly can going into the off week,” said Vermes after Monday’s training session.
“Best possible” doesn’t mean Sporting’s usual starting 11, though.
Right winger Kei Kamara (Sierra Leone) and left midfielder Roger Espinoza (Honduras) are gone on international duty. Left winger Bobby Convey is out with a left calf strain that sidelined him for Sporting’s 2-1 league win over San Jose on May 27 and their 3-2 third-round USOC victory over Orlando City FC last week.
“It’s taken a little bit longer than I expected,” Convey, who has not yet returned to full training, told MLSsoccer.com on Monday. “But since we have a little bit of a break, it’s good that I can get out and run this week and then get in a full week of training for the game next weekend. I’m not 21 anymore, so it takes a little bit of extra time to get back into the swing of things.”
Two spot starters are out for Tuesday night’s game as well. Paulo Nagamura, who has been Vermes’ go-to backup in the midfield this season, has a groin strain. Luke Sassano, who made five starts in 2011, is dealing with knee problems.
“I’m still contemplating a couple of things,” said Vermes, whose team returns to MLS play on June 16 at home against Toronto FC. “I have some good ideas in my head. I’m still tinkering around with the midfield and also the way we want to use some of the guys in the back.”
Also, Vermes isn’t sure whether he’ll go with No.1 goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen or with 19-year-old Jon Kempin, who made six saves against Orlando in his competitive debut for Sporting.
“Sometimes I’ll let the other guys run the games of the Open Cup,” Vermes said. “I’ll make that decision tomorrow, for game time.”
One player has made an especially strong case to start against the Rapids, center forward Teal Bunbury who scored two quick goals on them in last month’s 2-2 league draw.
“I always want to score goals, no matter who we’re playing against,” said Bunbury, who also netted twice in playoff action against the Rapids in 2011. “But yeah, I’ve been fortunate enough to score some goals on these guys. I know maybe they’re going to be putting more pressure on me, but we’ll be ready as a group to go after them.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.