So much seemed to be falling Sporting Kansas City’s way coming into 2012. But for those into picking nits – and journalists who don’t pick nits aren’t really worth their weight in nits, whatever those are – always recognized one soft underbelly. It was central defensive depth.
So when Matt Besler fell earlier this month to injury we watched and waited, because Aurelien Collin always seemed to need a governor, a stable element to check his substantial wild and impulsive side. Besler always seemed to provide that stabilizing element.
After a couple of respectable outings with fill-in center back Lawrence Olum, the SKC defense fell to pieces early and often in last week’s 4-0 loss at Philadelphia (a team that wasn’t scoring before this week’s eruption at PPL Park).
Besler got back on the field three nights later as Sporting executed professionally in a 3-0 U.S. Open Cup win over the Dayton Dutch Lions. He played 68 minutes, during which the home team’s defense was rarely tested by the lower tier Lions.
Tonight should be a while different jar of barbecue sauce. Besler, Collin and the rest of the Livestrong Sporting Park outfit will get a tougher test when Chicago visits Livestrong Sporting Park (8 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network) – assuming they play, that is.
One or both could be on the sideline to being this one. Besler reported recovering nicely from his first post-injury run-out, but a hamstring injury to Collin is complicating things. If the Frenchman does line up, he could be severely stretched to contain the speedy Dominic Oduro. Chasing Oduro, one of Major League Soccer’s fastest strikers, is a pulled hammy waiting to happen even when healthy.
Sebastien Grazzini is out for Chicago, which is good news for SKC, but Chris Rolfe should be available to provide the visitors some extra offensive umph.