May 17, 2014, 9:42 AM EDT
It has been quite a 2014 already for Sporting KC’s Erik Palmer-Brown, and now it’s about to get even wilder.
The 17-year-old American center back was reportedly at the center of a $1 million bid (and then more) from Juventus in January, and was tabbed for first-team action when Ike Opara suffered a season-ending injury.
With Matt Besler in United States camp, a hamstring ailment for Aurelien Collin and Lawrence Olum suddenly called up to Kenya, Palmer-Brown is one of Vermes only options for Sunday’s match against Chicago.
“Is it the best situation for him to step into? I don’t know,” Vermes said. “But what I do think is that I’ve seen him play at every level. I was there at his trial when he first started with our academy, and I think he was 9 years old and playing on the U-12 team, or 11. I can’t remember the age group that it was, but he was a couple of years younger, and I was blown away that he was that many years younger and he made the team.”
Vermes noted that Palmer-Brown always aims to play up a level.
“It’s like when he went to the [US] 17s, they were surprised,” Vermes said. “At the time, he was 14, and all of a sudden he’s playing there. Then he went to the 18 camp, and the next thing you know, he’s playing there. Then I talk to the U-20 coach, and he said, ‘You really think?’ and I said, ‘Look, he’ll be the best central defender you have. Then he goes and plays, they were like, ‘You’re not kidding. He was the guy who carried the game.’”
The report says Chance Myers could slide into a center back role as well, with defensive mid Uri Rosell having a chance to feature as well. But the World Cup is raising the profile for some future American hopefuls, and it feels extremely likely we’ll at least get our much-anticipated view of EPB on Sunday.
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