Sporting Kansas City's roster struggles in central defense continue, as Homegrown center back Erik Palmer-Brown, the youngest player ever to start an MLS match as a defender, sustained a stress fracture in his right foot in training on Tuesday and will undergo surgery on Friday to repair a broken fifth metatarsal. He is expected to be miss 3-4 months of action.
“I guess it's built up over a few months,” Palmer-Brown told MLSsoccer.com by phone on Tuesday. “Back in May, before I got my first start, I had a stress point injury. Then when we went for X-rays and an MRI, it showed I had a stress reaction forming. I guess over time since then, it's been building up to finally fracture.”
All it took, the 17-year-old US U-20 international said, was one awkward moment in training.
“At the end of practice, when I was dribbling, I kind of got my foot stuck in the ground and fell over it,” he said. “That was when it was just like, 'Ow. This kind of hurts right now.'”
Palmer-Brown was 16 when he signed with Sporting last summer and barely 17 when made his MLS debut in May. He had three league appearances, two starts and six appearances across all competitions. The injury might have an even bigger impact on the US U-20 national team, for whom Palmer-Brown was expected to compete in the Jan. 9-24 CONCACAF U-20 Championship in Jamaica, with four spots in the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup on the line.
“It was rough at first, right when I found out,” he said. “The season's not finished, and I was hoping to get some playoff minutes, my first ever. Then our [US] U-20 qualifying's coming up, and I had hoped to make that team. So all that's a downer, but there's a lot to reflect on, and there's a lot of positives coming out of this year. I'm just hoping for a quick recovery and to get right back at it.”
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Palmer-Brown is the second Kansas City center back, after Ike Opara (chondral defect microfracture) to sustain a season-ending injury this year. The news out of central defense was not all grim on Tuesday, though.
Manager Peter Vermes said Aurelien Collin, who has been out with an ankle injury, could be nearing a return – although it might not be in time for Friday's big away match against Eastern Conference leaders D.C. United (8 pm ET, NBC, match preview).
“He looked a lot better today,” Vermes told reporters. “I would say he's questionable at the moment.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.