Sporting Kansas City came into the 2014 season with five center backs on their roster, Matt Besler, Aurelien Collin, Lawrence Olum, Ike Opara, and Erik Palmer-Brown. With Besler set to miss about a month in May for the World Cup, it seemed that the four other central defenders on KC's roster would be able to shoulder the load through May and June until Besler's return. Now fans are not so sure.
It started in Colorado about a month ago where KC lost Opara to an injury. The injury ended up requiring surgery and the big central defender, KC's primary back up, was done for the season.
While that was a blow, KC could survive, Sporting still had Olum there, who while mainly playing in the midfield lately had performed well in previous years when starting there. Then yesterday morning articles from Kenya were stating that Olum had been called up for Kenya's African Cup of Nations qualifier this weekend and would miss Sunday's game against the Fire.
That fear though looked like it went away before the game when Andrew Weibe tweeted that it appeared that Olum would not be joining Kenya for the game. That lasted for less than 24 hours before Weibe tweeted again that he wasn't sure if Olum actually would be available on Sunday now and that we wouldn't know for sure until Friday.
Then in the 60th minute of last night's game against things got even worse when fans didn't think it could. Collin went down holding his hamstring and had to be substituted for the previously mentioned Olum. After the game, Collin said he'd probably be out for two weeks. No comment on the length of time came from Peter Vermes, but I would expect him to be more cautious with his estimate than Collin was.
On top of all that, Plamer-Brown, KC's youngest player has been listed as questionable the last few weeks on the injury report because of sesamoiditis in his right foot.
All this ends up doing is potentially putting Sporting KC in a huge bind in Chicago on Sunday. Sporting could very well come into the game with none of their center backs on their roster available. With that as a possibility, who would partner in front of Eric Kronberg against the Fire?
There are a few options for KC that give you a little bit of confidence, both Oriol Rosell and Chance Myers have previously played the center back position and if all five of KC's center backs are out, would seem to be the logical replacements at CB.
Rosell, while a midfielder his entire time in MLS, played as a center back for Barcalona's B team in Spain. It's certainly a different game in MLS vs the Spanish second division, but he at least has some experience there.
Myers is a bit more questionable though. KC's regular right back played some center back in college at UCLA. He's never played the position in a professional game for KC, but could very well be forced there Sunday.
Either player moving to center back would lead to a drop in their other position on the field. Rosell dropping into the middle of defense would cause a domino affect in midfield, with Paulo Nagamura dropping to the holding position, Benny Feilhaber going to the more box-to-box role, and Alex Martinez or Jimmy Medranda going into the more attacking position. Myers moving into the middle would mean that Igor Juliao would likely get his second straight start. Defensively last night he didn't look out of place, but some of his passing was off. Another option for KC would be to recall Kevin Ellis from his Oklahoma City loan for the game.
Other than those two, I'm not sure there's anyone else on the roster that I'd put at center back. Seth Sinovic and Paulo Nagamura I feel are both a little too short to play in the middle of defense.
This wouldn't be the first time that KC travels to Chicago with a makeshift central defense, back in 2011 in the second game of the season, Vermes paired Besler and Roger Espinoza in the middle of defense after injuries and other issues left KC without much defensive coverage. So it looks again like KC will travel to Chicago with a makeshift back line.
The best thing for KC heading into the weekend is for Olum to not travel to Kenya and be available for the game. That would allow one of Myers or Rosell to partner him in the middle and allow the other to play their natural position. It's certainly not an ideal situation, especially with KC looking to put the poor performance against Philadelphia behind them. The back line will have their hands full with Quincy Amarikwa, Mike Magee, and Harry Shipp on top of their back line issues.