5 THINGS: Who the heck is going to play centerback for Sporting KC?

5 THINGS: Sporting KC down to fifth and sixth choice center backs for Fire clash

The Chicago Fire return to Toyota Park Sunday for a match with 2013 MLS Cup champions Sporting KC (2pm CT on My50/TWCSC-WI/UniMas). Here are five things you should know heading into the match...

Sporting KC’s Centerback Crisis?

Sporting knew for a while that both Graham Zusi and starting center back Matt Besler would be off to national team camp prior to Sunday’s match.

 What they didn’t plan on was that Besler’s center back partner Aurelien Collin would also l be out of the lineup after coming off with a hamstring injury in Wednesday’s 2-1  home loss to Philadelphia. If Peter Vermes’ comments are to be believed, the call-up of Lawrence Olum by the Kenyan FA for that country’s African Cup of Nations qualifiers also came as a surprise.

Already without center back Ike Opara who underwent ankle surgery earlier this season, Vermes is down to his fifth and sixth choices at center back. Who could they be?

Seventeen-year-old Homegrown player Erik Palmer-Brown is the only natural center back left on Sporting’s roster but has yet to make an MLS appearance, while the possibility of 19-year-old defender Igor Juliao exists too. From a veteran angle, starting right back Chance Myers has played in the middle before while defensive midfielder Uri Rosell is also capable of playing there but even he is nursing an injury.

“No one’s at full strength,” Fire head coach Frank Yallop told Chicago Fire Weekly on Saturday. “We don’t look at it any differently. They’re missing good players but they’re still a good side, they know hot to get it done. It’s about depth in our league, I think whoever gets the chance to play for them, they’ll play fine. Nothing changes with our approach.”

Fire Available Players

Yallop also told Chicago Fire Weekly that for the second straight week, normal starting centerback Bakary Soumare will not be available for selection on Sunday vs. Sporting KC. The MLSsoccer.com Injury Report lists the veteran defender as suffering from calf tightness. Soumare was ruled out of last week’s 5-4 win at New York with migraine symptoms.

Yallop said that there’s a chance Alex could return as a substitute after suffering a hamstring strain in the 2-2 draw with New England back on April 19 and Dilly Duka continues to round into form after being unavailable for most of the beginning part of the season.

The Fire manager also admitted that despite his seven minute cameo in last week’s match, defender Gonzalo Segares’ ankle is still sore.

Gonzalo Segares Milestone?

If Segares does end up on the field at some point on Sunday, he’ll record a personal milestone in tying former teammate and captain Chris Armas at fourth on the club’s all-time MLS appearance list.

Segares sits at 213 while Armas recorded 214 MLS appearances during 10 seasons in Chicago. Long-time Fire goalkeeper sits third on the list at 215 games played.

Reserve Game

Get two games for the price of one on Sunday as the Fire Reserves will host a match against USL PRO side Richmond Kickers beginning at 4:30pm CT.

Fans attending the first game can leave and re-enter at Gate C only. The match will also be streamed live on Chicago-Fire.com with Fred Huebner on the call.

Gameday Giveaway

The first 5,000 fans into Toyota Park on Sunday will receive a FREE captain’s pennant courtesy of the Nicor Gas Energy Efficiency Program!