Tuesday, May 19, 2015

With Injuries Mounting, Sporting Recall Abdul-Salaam

The injury bug is once again hitting Kansas City bad, so bad in fact that Sporting Kansas City has recalled outside back Saad Abdul-Salaam from his loan to NASL side, the San Antonio Scorpions. Abdul-Salaam has started five of San Antonio's six games so far this season, all as a right back for the defending champions.
His recall is forced for KC as they could be down to just 17 players (including Abdul-Salaam) for tomorrow's game against the New England Revolution at Sporting Park. Already down Chance Myers and Ike Opara due to long term injuries and Erik Palmer-Brown to the U20 World Cup, KC is down a number of others as well. Marcel de Jong, Roger Espinoza, and Graham Zusi are all recovering from the injuries that kept them out of the game day 18 for Saturday's scheduled game against Colorado. Joining them is Seth Sinovic who was a late scratch in that game apparently still affected by the head injury he picked up in DC as well as Bernardo Anor who hasn't appeared in the 18 over the past few games for KC as he is injured as well. The injury bug is so bad it's made its way to Oklahoma City where Mikey Lopez, loaned to the Energy is also injured and could not be recalled.
KC's thin roster will definitely be tested over the next few days with KC not only having to face the Revolution who is second in the Eastern Conference, but also having to face the Seattle Sounders in Seattle on Saturday night. A tough stretch for KC to handle with such a thin roster right now, maybe the cancellation of the Colorado game was a godsend.
The number of injuries though does bring up a question, how has KC gotten to this point two years in a row. From the time that Peter Vermes took over in August of 2009 until the end of the 2013 season, KC had been a fairly consistent team in terms of health. They didn't have a lot of players miss a lot of matches. Over the last season plus, KC has had a complete reversal of fortunes with a number of injuries causing all sorts of problems for Vermes and his staff. But what really has changed in that time frame?
One thing that hasn't changed, but at least could be pointed to as an effect last season, was simply the lack of down time players got between seasons for Sporting as KC ended the 2013 season in early December and was back in came a little over a month later. At the same time a number of Sporting players joined the US national team less than a month after the season ended for national team camp. Does that explain all the issues the team has had with injuries? Certainly not, but it does at least give a point to look at for the 2014 season, when the team played 43 games across all competitions, plus a friendly.
But what's caused it to carry over to 2015, when most of the team had about two and a half months off before preseason for 2015 started? It starts to make some question whether it's a practice and work rate issue, similar to the issues that hounded Preki when he was head coach at Chivas USA. After a year or so in charge, Preki's Chivas team always seemed to have issues with injuries with a number of players missing long lengths of time. But Vermes has had a set up in place really since he became the full time head coach in 2010, and that's when fitness coach Mateus Manoel also came on and joined the team. Have training practices changed in the last year or so? Are players getting overworked and is that leading to more injuries?
To be fair, at the same time a couple of the injuries you can't put on the coaching staff, for example the head injuries that both Sinovic and Zusi picked up in DC. While you can argue that the players shouldn't have stayed on the field, you can't specifically blame the training for those injuries, and with Lopez in OKC, you can't really blame Vermes for the injury to a player that is not there. You can also look at the fact that KC is not the only ones that have been suffering from a seemingly larger number of injuries this year, with the likes of Salt Lake and LA also having a number of injury issues.
Still, there has to be some concern about the fact that KC continues to suffer from an injury crisis multiple times over the course of the season for the second straight season.

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