KANSAS CITY, Mo. – With two big matches in a four-day span, Peter Vermes has some serious personnel choices to make.
On the one hand, a home victory Tuesday night against Nicaragua's Real Esteli (8 pm ET, Fox Sports 1, UDN) would give Vermes' Sporting Kansas City squad the outright lead in their CONCACAF Champions League group with one match to go. On the other, surging New England visit Sporting Park on Friday night in league action (8 pm ET, NBCSN), with Kansas City needing all three points to stay close to the Eastern Conference lead.
On top of that, Sporting just played on Thursday – a 3-1 home win over Costa Rican side Deportivo Saprissa in CCL competition.
“Obviously, it's three games in nine days,” Vermes told reporters on Monday, “so you have to have some rotation of the roster. But we also need to take each game one at a time. So right now, our focus is on Esteli, and the other game will come Friday. So I'm going to have to go with what's available on both, and we'll play from there.”
One change will likely come in goal, where Eric Kronberg was expected to start on Thursday – his first action since breaking his hand in early July – before a glitch in his CONCACAF eligibility paperwork forced him to wait one more match.
Center back Aurelien Collin, who was a persistent attack-wrecker against Saprissa, also could be a matchday scratch on Tuesday.
“Collin may have an issue. I'll know more tomorrow,” Vermes said. “It may be a little bit of a nagging thing that I'll have to give him a rest. I'm still not sure yet.”
Vermes did not elaborate, but said Collin's issue was not a recurrence of the recurrent hamstring strain that kept sidelining him earlier this season.
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While acknowledging the roster challenges that go along with tightly packed stretches such as this one, Vermes said they also reflect the club's expected level of success.
“It's what I say all the time: Part of being a successful team is that there's more responsibility that goes along with it,” he said. “There's more games. There are a lot of teams that we come up against that don't have the number of games that we have, and that's OK – but that's the price you pay, and that's where you want to be, and we're going to continue to work to be there.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.