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Sporting KC’s Alan Pulido Called up by the Mexican National Team; Could Miss Several Games

It could have a huge impact on the remainder of Sporting’s season.

Mexico National Team Arrives to Houston Photo by Omar Vega/LatinContent via Getty Images

Update 6:15 PM CT 10/1/2020: Well apparently FIFA has backed off their stance and won’t enforce this. That doesn’t mean that Pulido won’t want to go, but it seems Kansas City / MLS can bar him from leaving.

For the first time in nearly two years, Sporting Kansas City’s Alan Pulido has been called into the Mexican National Team.

Pulido last appeared for Mexico near the end of 2018 in a series of friendlies against Argentina. Prior to that, you have to go back to July of 2017 for a friendly against Paraguay.

While of course it’s always exciting to see players on Sporting KC playing so well that they are called in to represent their countries, especially a team like Mexico with their strong, storied history. It’s hard not to be a little selfish.

How are Sporting KC Impacted?

The two games Pulido will be away for are on October 7th against the Netherlands and October 13th against Algeria. Add to that the recent ruling from FIFA that players have to be released (despite previous exceptions due to COVID-19) means that it’s almost assured that Pulido will join his team and miss serious action. How much is up in the air when you factor in quarantines on both ends of the trip. Seeing the Gonzalo Higuain situation, who knows what the quarantine rules are.

Let’s look at the SKC schedule.

7:00pm Saturday, October 3rd at Houston Dynamo

7:30pm Wednesday, October 7th vs Chicago Fire

6:30pm Sunday, October 11th vs Nashville SC

7:30pm Wednesday, October 14th at FC Dallas

2:30pm Saturday, October 17th at Chicago Fire

8:00pm Wednesday, October 21st at Colorado Rapids

7:30pm Saturday, October 24th vs Colorado Rapids

6:30pm Wednesday, October 28th at FC Cincinnati

6:30pm Sunday, November 1st vs Minnesota United

5:30pm Sunday, November 8th at Real Salt Lake

It’s possible that Pulido would need to leave already to quarantine with his Mexican National Team teammates and he could miss Saturday’s game against Houston. We don’t know that, but nothing is off the table.

Then he’ll definitely miss the games against Chicago, Nashville and Dallas and one would assume at least another against Chicago four days after the Algeria game. Honestly, he’d probably have to miss the first Colorado game that’s just eight days after the Algeria game. And who says it stops there? How long do players have to quarantine? Not at all if you are Gonzalo Higuain, so maybe Pulido gets the superstar exception too.

So we are probably looking at a minimum of four games missed but it could easily climb to six or seven. There are only 10 games left. If Pulido misses 40 or 70 percent of the games, that won’t be a good sign for a team that is struggling to outscore their opponents.

SKC’s Forward Depth Chart

Peter Vermes’ preferred backup striker appears to be Khiry Shelton (Erik Hurtado has only 100 minutes this season). Shelton is also a starting winger. That only leaves four wingers on the roster in Johnny Russell, Gerso Fernandes, Daniel Salloi and Tyler Freeman.

Freeman has never made an MLS appearance (though SKC II’s season ends on Saturday at Louisville).

Salloi hasn’t scored a goal since the penultimate game in 2019 and that was his only goal of 2019. In 2020 he has played only 66 minutes in MLS play over four games and he has no goals or assists.

Russell and Gerso have shown their quality but Sporting essentially play every four days so they can’t play all the minutes.

It seems clear we’ll see (deservingly) a lot more of Erik Hurtado (two goals in 2020 in limited minutes) but Salloi and Freeman appear to be in a situation where they will need to step up too. And just imagine if anyone gets hurt. Or if Russell or Gadi Kinda get called up too.

So despite what an honor it is for Pulido to get called back in to represent his country, it’s going to make this weird 2020 season even weirder.