KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Between injuries, international absences and the odd disciplinary suspension, every manager has to shuffle his roster at one time or another.
But for Sporting Kansas City, in the heat of the summer and the thick of their schedule, the revolving door has been spinning hard, fast and frequently – and Saturday’s home match against the New England Revolution (8:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online) promises more of the same.
“I think I do that every week,” Vermes said on Friday during the team’s weekly news conference. “I ask certain individual players and also the team to do things we haven’t been doing or haven’t done before. I feel confident that the guys we’ll put out there will be ready and more than able to get the job done. Obviously it always hurts when you’re missing guys, different guys getting injured here and there, but week in and week out we’ve got to get stronger and deeper within our team.”
Sporting’s midfield does get a break with the return of All-Star selection Graham Zusi, out for the past two matches with a right quad strain.
“It’s good,” Zusi told MLSsoccer.com of his quad after Friday’s training session. “Perfect. One hundred percent. I don’t feel it at all. The couple of games of rest really helped, but it feels good to be back on the field now and I’m excited to be playing back at home.”
And on the backline, left back Seth Sinovic has made a speedy comeback from turning an ankle late in Saturday’s 2-1 loss against the Houston Dynamo. Backup central defender Lawrence Olum, meanwhile, has recovered enough from a groin strain that Vermes said he will be in the 18 against New England.
“It’s feeling all right,” Sinovic said of his ankle. “I probably would have hurt the team more than helped the team at that point, but it’s healed pretty quickly over the last couple of days.”
That’s the good news. There are another three players in the “bad news” column.
Chance Myers’ run as Sporting’s only player to appear in every match will come to an end on Saturday, as the right back struggles with a groin strain. Zusi’s top backup, Peterson Joseph, is serving a one-game red-card suspension. And Sporting are still looking for ways to compensate for left midfielder Roger Espinoza’s absence while he’s away on Olympic duty with Honduras.
Michael Harrington will likely make a second straight start at right back, and Sporting have enough experience and versatility to field a solid unit against New England – perhaps by shifting winger Jacob Peterson into Espinoza’s slot for the night.
“He could play there,” Vermes said. “Michael Thomas could play there. Even Bobby Convey, to some extent, could play there, but Bobby’s got such good service from the outside that you don’t want to lose that.”
Peterson, also speaking during the news conference, said he’ll play wherever he’s needed.
“Whatever Pete asks me to do, I’m comfortable with,” he said. “I’ve played everywhere on the field before in my career, so nothing’s a surprise. Obviously, I’m a winger by trade, but any position I’m comfortable with.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.