Has SKC Found a Midfield Trio in Time For the Playoffs?

With the playoffs around the corner, who can SKC put in the middle?
by Eric Harris   |   Friday, October 24, 2014

State of SKC - column on Sporting KC (SKC) & the Kansas City soccer scene.

Uri Rosell was sold to Sporting CP on June 3rd. Since that time Sporting Kansas City has struggled to find a replacement in the holding midfield position that he was so dependable at. In 2014, Rosell played in seven matches, four of those he was partnered with Benny Feilhaber and Paulo Nagamura in the midfield. That has been the most successful midfield for SKC this season even though it was short lived. In those four games SKC collected 10 points a and outscored opponents 9-2.

In that midfield each player had their role and fit in it perfectly, Rosell and Nagamura gave support to the backline and were able to move forward freely at times, very similar to the roles Jermaine Jones and Michael Bradley have played recently for the USMNT. Feilhaber was the link to the three attacking players, and his passing ability have led to six assists this season.

The sale of Rosell may have been too good to pass up, but it has thrown off the roles of the midfield this season and injuries have not helped with stability. At times this summer Feilhaber has been forced to take up the holding midfield role, and younger players such as Mikey Lopez have been forced to step in. Graham Zusi and Toni Dovale are both listed as midfielders but both have excelled in a wide forward’s role, and the past few games with Zusi in central midfield have not gone well. The past four games with Zusi listed as a central midfielder have ended in two losses and two draws.

So what is the solution, in the past couple months Peter Vermes has put up a trio that is getting improved results as the season winds down. Rather than changing anyone’s roles around, SKC has looked for a direct replacement. The competition for that has been narrowed down to Lawrence Olum and recent signing Jorge Claros.

Claros joined Sporting after a trip to Brazil in the World Cup with the Honduran national team. In his time with Kansas City he has made seven appearances with mixed results. In 419 minutes, the only statistic has been one shot. No cards, no goals and no assists have been recorded by Claros and that simply wont cut it in the playoffs no matter how solidly he is defensively. That leaves Lawrence Olum, who has made 20 spots this season and is growing more comfortable in the role vacated by Rosell.

In the past 12 matches, SKC has gone to the combo of Olum, Nagamura and Feilhaber five times. That has resulted in nine points and a goal differential of plus-7. Those other seven games have just had five points and a differential of minus-6. With just one MLS game before the start of the playoffs, Sporting cant afford to lose the battle of the midfield, especially when possibly facing the likes of Jermaine Jones, Gonzalo Higuain and Thierry Henry in the playoffs. For a successful playoff run the trio of Olum, Nagamura and Feilhaber will have to continue their improved play.

NEXT UP: October 26 — Sporting Kansas City v. New York Red Bulls, 7:30 p.m. Sporting Park. ESPN2.

Eric HARRIS

Nationality:
USA
College:
U of Arkansas
Club Domestic:
Sporting KC
Club Foreign:
Fulham
American soccer fan by birth, SKC and Fulhamerican by choice. Watcher of all soccer, professional, WoSo and college. A life long Arkansan, he spends more money on soccer jerseys than a college student should.
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