The news regarding the injury that Ike Opara picked up in Sporting's 0-0 draw with Real Salt Lake is not good, the team announced today that the center back, and team's leading scorer had ruptured his Achilles Tendon. Opara will now miss at least four months and could be out for the season recovering from the injury. It's the fifth time in six professional seasons that Opara has had his season end early due to injury, four of those seasons were due to leg injuries of some kind.
It's certainly disappointing for one of the better defenders in the league this year to have his season end disappointingly like this. Hopefully he'll be able to return and pick up where he left off. But with his injury history that certainly has to be a big question of whether KC can afford having this happen to a defender they expect a lot from. It's not that Opara doesn't have the talent, he certainly does, but it's a question of whether KC can continue with the threat of having to use their third center back regularly when Opara picks up an injury.
As for this season though, the question is where KC goes from here in regards to their center back situation. The team still has three players that can play center back with Jalil Anibaba, Kevin Ellis, and Erik Palmer-Brown. Anibaba probably has the most experience at the position having played there for Chicago and Seattle before coming to KC. Ellis got the most time there last season after Opara's injury, having a decent if unspectacular season. Finally teenager Palmer-Brown got some experience last year filling in, but is still green as a professional.
Anibaba right now is probably best utilized in the right back position, moving him centrally with Matt Besler would mean that either Amadou Dia or Ellis would have to come into the right back position. The likely choice though for the center back position is Ellis. The KC home grown player started at center back with Opara in the only game that Opara and Besler did not start together this season. It won't be an easy game this coming weekend against Los Angeles, especially if Robbie Keane is back and able to start, but it's what KC is likely going to need to do at this point.
Unlike last year when Opara went down and KC still had Besler and Aurelien Collin to start for a majority of the season (minus the World Cup) still. Now with Opara down and 28 games left in the season, KC is looking at a likely platoon next to Besler to finish out the season. That's not ideal as we saw for periods of time last year. While I wasn't of the opinion that KC needed to go out and get a defender last year, I think the team may need to consider looking at bringing in another central defender that can start next to Besler every game, especially with the Gold Cup and the U20 World Cup both coming this summer.