Sporting Kansas City are in the home stretches of what has been a very trying 2019 Major League Soccer season. For much of the year they’ve been without a large chunk of players due to injuries. Finally the injury bug has subsided (for now) but a FIFA International break has reared its ugly head to bite Sporting KC in the ass since MLS has apparently decided to ignore it and schedule games.
As of this writing, Sporting KC are expected to be without at least seven players for Saturday’s pivotal road game against the Portland Timbers (and possibly more). The Timbers are three points and one spot ahead of SKC in the standings. Let’s break down where everyone will be.
OUT - Rodney Wallace
As has been the case for most of the year, Wallace is out with an injury. He is probably physically close to being able to return but in a move that brought Benny Feilhaber back to Kansas City, Wallace was put on the injured list, not to return.
QUESTIONABLE - Adrian Zendejas
AZ is the backup goalkeeper and he did play 90 minutes for the Swope Park Rangers two weeks ago. But since then he was again out for the game against the Houston Dynamo. He wouldn’t play anyways and isn’t in the seven players we are counting.
At this time, there are no other known injuries.
Felipe Gutierrez (Chile)
Gutierrez will be joining Chile for two games. They play Argentina on Thursday the 5th and Honduras on Tuesday the 10th. Gutierrez would have missed this game regardless as he picked up a yellow card suspension. Unfortunately, this missed game won’t count for that suspension, so he’ll miss the next two, both of which are on the road.
Johnny Russell (Scotland)
Russell got the call to join Scotland for a pair of UEFA Euro Qualifiers. The Scottish National Team will face off with Russia on Friday the 6th and with Belgium on Monday the 9th.
Gianluca Busio (United States U-17s)
Busio will head off for international duty with the USMNT’s youth setup. In the final U-17 World Cup prep (yep, he’ll miss time for that in short order as well), the US will play Mexico on Thursday the 5th, the Netherlands on Saturday the 7th and Denmark on Monday the 9th.
Botond Barath & Krisztian Nemeth (Hungary)
Nemeth and Barath are joining Hungary for two games. First they play Montenegro in a friendly on Thursday the 5th. And then they play Slovakia in a UEFA Euro Qualifier on Monday the 9th.
Nicolas Hasler (Liechtenstein)
Nico, as one of the few professionals on the team, will join Liechtenstein for a pair of UEFA Euro Qualifiers as well. They will face off against Bosnia and Herzegovina on Thursday the 5th and Greece on Sunday the 8th.
Yohan Croizet (???)
As The Blue Testament’s Cody Bradley likes to say, the Curious Case of Yohan Croizet. He finally comes around to being moderately liked/not despised and now he is AWOL. On the Shades of Blue Soccer Show some theories were thrown out, but no one really knows where Yohan is. He’s definitely still in KC. The officially line is he’s still with the team. But it really seems like he may have kicked his last ball in Sporting Blue in a game day situation. It would really been nice if all three Designated Players weren’t missing for Saturday’s game though.
Portland will be Missing Nine
While there is a definite, “woe is me” sentiment from Sporting fans, the Timbers are down quite a few players too. According to a report in the Oregonian, they will be missing nine players on Saturday. Seven injuries and two international call-ups.
Andres Flores (El Salvador) and Renzo Zambrano (Venezuela)
Larrys Mabiala (left hamstring injury), Julio Cascante (left thigh injury), Modou Jadama (left foot injury), Zarek Valentin (left upper leg injury), Marco Farfan (left knee injury), Cristhian Paredes (right upper leg injury) and Jeff Attinella (shoulder surgery)
Apples to Oranges
One thing becomes clear when looking at the lists: all absences aren’t created equally. Sporting Kansas City are missing arguably their two best players (Gutierrez and Russell) while Portland still have theirs in Sebastian Blanco and Diego Valeri.
On the other hand, Portland are missing a large chunk of their starting backline and Sporting KC will have their starters from the last few games (Graham Smith has started three straight times over Barath).
No matter what pieces are missing, SKC will need to find a result against the Timbers. Portland plays all their remaining games at home except a single trip to Children’s Mercy Park to play KC. Realistically Sporting needs to win, but a draw would be a pretty acceptable result all things considered.