Sporting KC will be without winger/forward Ryan Smith for another week and a half before he joins back up with the team on February 20. (Photo by G. Newman Lowrance/Getty Images)
It was a bit funny back on the evening of January 24, the eve of Sporting Kansas City players reporting for entry physicals the next day, when I joked on Twitter that there should be no news coming out of the team until the first day of training on Tuesday. Unless we were to find out that winger Ryan Smith suddenly had some sort of life-threatening condition that would force him to prematurely end his increasingly brilliant footballing career.
Some fans joked back on the first day of training that it was all my fault and that I had jinxed him the nights before when he was unexpectedly missing from training that Tuesday morning.
It was later revealed that Smith had suffered a "slight injury," as Sporting KC technical director/head coach Peter Vermes put it during a conference call on Wednesday, to his knee before the team began preseason training. "We decided that we would leave him back in KC, and it would give us a chance to look at some other players," said Vermes.
The team has wasted no time moving forward without Smith, though, since they left for Arizona a week and a half ago. In that time, they have endured a round of two-a-day training sessions, a preseason scrimmage against Columbus Crew this past Saturday and a three team intra-squad battle on Wednesday. Just because he is back in Kansas City without his teammates doesn't mean that Smith has been shut down, or he hasn't been working hard to prepare himself to get his preseason off the ground sooner rather than later.
According to Vermes, "he's actually working out twice a day in Kansas City, and he'll connect back up with us when we come back down here on the (February) 20th."
It will certainly be interesting to see how Smith returns from the injury to start his preseason, and how a bit of competition for his left-sided forward position from new guys Omar Bravo and Adda Djeziri will (hopefully) cause him to step his game up to another level above his standout performance in 2010. Either way, Smith remains a guy that SKC need healthy on March 19 and throughout the season.