Thursday, March 06, 2014

A Look at the Depth Chart - Midfield

Continuing to work forward through Kansas City's team, we move on to the midfield. KC saw no movement out from the midfield position, and only one addition, the signing of third round draft pick, Alex Martinez. As with the defense and the forwards, it's been all about the consistency for KC's midfield.

Attacking Midfielder
1. Benny Feilhaber
2. Graham Zusi
3. Claudio Bieler
4. Jimmy Medranda
5. Alex Martinez

Feilhaber gets the nod ahead of Zusi as the number one on this depth chart because in KC's "Best XI" Zusi's number 1 position is elsewhere on the field. Bieler played a few games in the attacking midfield spot during preseason and didn't look completely out of place. For me though Bieler being back in midfield puts a lot more pressure on the remaining two midfield spots in my opinion for it to be really succession for KC. Medranda looked really impressive during the preseason for KC and looks set to get quite a few minutes in the upcoming season with all the competitions. Martinez rounds out the attacking midfield position. The rookie has also been impressive this preseason, picking up three assists for KC.

Box to Box Midfielder
1. Paulo Nagamura
2. Benny Feilhaber
3. Oriol Rosell
4. Mikey Lopez
5. Christian Duke

Nagamura's return to the midfield helped to propel Kansas City to MLS Cup this past year. His play was key and keeps him at the top of the depth chart. Behind him is Feilhaber and Rosell, both of whom had time playing in the role while Nagamura was out. Feilhaber when Zusi dropped into the midfield and Rosell when Olum played. Behind those two comes last year's first round pick, Lopez. The Generation Adidas player only played one game for KC last year, in the US Open Cup. Without US youth team commitments, Lopez should spend more time with KC and get more game action. Duke spent most of last season on loan to Orlando City where he got plenty of game experience. All of which will come in handy with the number of games KC already has on the schedule and questions on how healthy Nagamura can stay.

Holding Midfielder
1. Oriol Rosell
2. Lawrence Olum
3. Paulo Nagamura

Rosell is the primary starter here, establishing himself in the role last year, taking over for Julio Cesar. When Rosell was rested, or as in MLS Cup injured, Olum filled in quite admirably. I had my doubts about him, especially after he'd been the team's third center back for the majority of the 2012 season. But he did quite well for himself. Behind those two the next in line is Nagamura dropping into the role while KC goes with a more attacking midfield.

While the midfield has been consistent, there are still some questions.

Where is Peterson Joseph on the list?

I've left Peterson Joseph off my depth chart entirely at this moment because of the continued questions about his health and when he'll play again. I personally will be surprised if he is off injured reserve at all this season. At this point he needs to make sure he's healthy enough to leave the next 40-50 years.

Can Nagamura stay healthy?

Another question of a players health. Nagamura was limited to just 17 league games. He'd played 27 in league play the year before. Nagamura just turned 31, and there has to be questions of how much he'll be able to contribute. This question had led many KC fans to wonder if the acquisition of a box to box midfielder was not a key for KC's offseason. KC made no acquisition, at least not yet, so the hope is that Nagamura can provide that bite more this season in midfield.

Which Feilhaber shows up?

Feilhaber had a fantastic playoff run, his game against Houston in KC was his best in a KC uniform. But at times during the season he was invisible and not involved in play. The question is which one will show up for KC the majority of the season. With Zusi set to miss a number of games while away with the US  team, Feilhaber will be expected to fill that playmaking role even more (of course that's assuming Feilhaber isn't called up). KC will need the Feilhaber from the playoffs to show up more.

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