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MLS Champions Look To Replace Retired Captain

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KANSAS CITY, KS - JULY 21: Eric Kronberg #18 of the Sporting KC dives to block a shot during warmups before the game against the New England Revolution at Livestrong Sporting Park on July 21, 2012 in Kansas City, Kansas. Photo by Kyle Rivas/Getty Images.
KANSAS CITY, KS - JULY 21: Eric Kronberg #18 of the Sporting KC dives to block a shot during warmups before the game against the New England Revolution at Livestrong Sporting Park on July 21, 2012 in Kansas City, Kansas. Photo by Kyle Rivas/Getty Images.

With the first leg of preseason coming to a close, the defending MLS Cup winners Sporting KC have a large gap that needs filled. With the retirement of captain and goalkeeper Jimmy Nielson, Sporting KC now has to find his replacement. While Nielson will be hard to replace, two options remain available in house.

The first and most likely candidate is Eric Kronberg. Kronberg has been with Sporting KC since 2006 and in that time has backed up two different goalkeepers. According to Kronberg, manager Peter Vermes has given him the preliminary start.

“I'm in a place where the coaches respect me,” he told the clubs official website. “They're going to give me a shot. They told me that, and I trust them. I've trusted them a long time.”

Kronberg's starting job may not be set in stone. During the offseason, Sporting KC traded a 2016 pick for Columbus Crew starting goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum. The Kansas City native knows he's fighting an uphill battle for the starting spot, but isn't backing down.

“Everyone here at this level wants to play, and you want to be on the field,” Gruenebaum said. “I'm in the particular position that only one can play, and I'm just going to compete. I'm going to put my head down and play.”

More information will likely be available when the team returns from practice in Tuscon, Ariz.