There have been two big questions for Sporting KC since the retirement of Jimmy Nielsen after the end of the 2013 season. Who would take over in net for the White Puma. And who would take over as the club's captain. The first question we are in the process of answering. Peter Vermes has given Eric Kronberg the number 1 jersey and he seems to have the inside track to be the starter over recently acquired Andy Gruenebaum.
The second question though is further up in the air. With Nielsen starting 79 of KC's 86 competitive games in the last two years since been named the club's captain after the trade of Davy Arnaud. In those seven games, Sporting KC has had four different players wear the arm band. Kronberg has worn the arm band twice this past year, once in the Open Cup against Des Moines and against Olimpia in Honduras. Paulo Nagamura has also captained the club twice, KC's two match ups against Orlando City over the last two years. Matt Besler captained Kansas City in their two home games of the CCL this past year. The last captain was Aurelien Collin, who wore the arm band against Real Esteli.
If we're looking at who is going to be the next captain of the club I think the best place to start are those four players. One player I think we can eliminate from the list is Collin. While I like Collin, and he's a player that you put into the lineup every chance he's available, that's the one question, his availability. This past season Collin he picked up 13 yellow cards and was suspended due to accumulation three times in the 2013 season. I'm not sure you want your full time club captain to be that sort of liability. While he's never picked up a red card officially for KC (the one he did pick up was rescinded due to mistaken identity) it's just too much for me to say he should be captain.
Another player that I think we can eliminate from the list is Kronberg. The most tenured player on KC's roster, this will be his 9th season with the club. Not only has he captained Sporting two of the seven times over the last two years, he's also been captain before that in other Open Cup and Open Cup qualifier games. The thing that really works against Kronberg in my opinion is his lack of experience. He's played just five league games in his eight year career so far and another 14 more games in all other competitions. Not enough for me to see him given the arm band.
That leaves us with two players that have captained the team in Nielsen's absence, Besler and Nagamura. These are the two players I feel could captain the team and I think both will over the course of the year.
For me though I think the player that should join the likes of Nielsen, Preki, Tony Meola, Diego Gutierrez, and Jimmy Conrad as club captain, is local KC boy, Matt Besler. The Notre Dame product was a candidate to take over the position after the trade of Arnaud before it was given to Nielsen. The US national teamer has established himself as one of the best defenders in the league and has proven to be a leader on the field. I think Besler is the best candidate on the roster at this time to take over the arm band.
As I said though, Nagamura could very well get the opportunity to wear the arm band as well. As long as Nagamura can remain healthy, I think he's the one that wears the arm band while Besler is away with the US team at the World Cup.