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Sporting KC Injury (and Pulido) Update and Starting XI Predictions Versus Houston

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Will Alan Pulido play before potentially heading off to join Mexico?

MLS: Houston Dynamo at Sporting Kansas City Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Sporting Kansas City just got Alan Pulido back from nearly a month long injury. No sooner does he return in a substitute role than does he immediately get his first call-up for the Mexican National Team in nearly two years.

Injury Updates

Here is my unofficial injury report with the full report coming on Saturday. (Update: The official injury report changed nothing.)

OUT - Felipe Gutierrez (knee surgery), Matt Besler (hamstring), Luis Martins (unknown)

QUESTIONABLE - Richard Sanchez (unknown), Roger Espinoza (world’s worst cramp)

Starting XI Predictions

Okay, so we know the injury situation, just one big question mark.

Is Alan Pulido Leaving for International Duty?

The answer is, we don’t know. However, we do know one thing. He’ll be available this weekend.

With that said, you’d think with a week and a half off since the last game you’d start him and play him as long as you can before you are potentially without him for a sizable chunk of games.

Is it wrong that I want him to play 89 minutes, get a really minor knock and not travel to play with the Mexican National Team and then pop back into the lineup a week later? I know it is. It did happen once with Roger Espinoza and Honduras were quite mad.

That said, FIFA has tracked back and will allow MLS to block players from leaving. Pulido has made it clear he wants to play for his country, so this situation could get quite tricky.

As far as the other forwards, Johnny Russell is a must start with four goals in the last three games. I think Shelton back to the wings makes sense to keep Gerso as a super sub off the bench. Plus you still have Erik Hurtado available to spell Pulido at CF as needed.

Kinda is Suspended; But Busio is Back

Gadi Kinda will miss this game due to yellow card accumulation, however, Roger Espinoza is no longer listed as “not medically cleared.” If Espinoza is back, there are a lot more midfield options. Especially because Gianluca Busio is also back from suspension.

Do you go with Busio as your #6 and have a combination of Felipe Hernandez and Espinoza as dual destroyers in front of him? I personally think Busio has shown enough to be the regular starter at the six spot. However, I think because of the Kinda suspension, we could see Busio play a more advanced role and see Ilie Sanchez return. That also leaves Hernandez available off the bench to spell a recently recovered (still recovering?) Espinoza.

This Dang Defense

Besler is out, so a new starting lineup is coming. The simplest answer is that Winston Reid steps into his spot and the other three — Roberto Puncec, Amadou Dia and Graham Zusi — remain the same. But I have to say, where the heck is Graham Smith? If you look at the games he played in, several times with Reid in fact, the team defense was mostly solid. I’m not sure if he or Puncec are faster, but I want Graham Smith (if you told me last year I’d be writing that, I’d have laughed at you). That said, I suspect it’ll be Puncec. Either way, if Besler isn’t ready Wednesday, hopefully Vermes has learned his lesson about playing Reid too much and he’ll play every other game with games basically every four days from here out.

I want Jaylin Lindsey to start too, but I’ll just cross my fingers for Wednesday.

Rest of the 20: John Pulskamp, Gerso Fernandes, Jaylin Lindsey, Graham Smith, Andreu Fontas, Erik Hurtado, Cameron Duke, Kuzain, Daniel Salloi

Fan XI

You guys, without the insight of waiting all week like I do, have the exact same lineup as me with the exception of Felipe Hernandez over Roger Espinoza. No word on if he’s back, he’s just not “out.”

Here is your lineup and full vote tallies by category (with the starters in italics):

Goalkeepers: Melia (98.4%), Sanchez (1.6%)

Defenders: Reid (85.9%), Dia (67.2%), Puncec (60.9%), Zusi (56.3%), Smith (45.3%), Lindsey (40.6%), Martins (26.6%), Besler (7.8%), Fontas (1.6%)

Midfielders: Busio (93.8%), Ilie (81.3%), Hernandez (56.3%), Espinoza (43.8%), Duke (12.5%), Zusi (6.3%), Pulido (3.1%) and the suspended Kinda was written in once

Wingers: Russell (95.3%), Shelton (62.5%), Gerso (37.5%), Salloi (3.1%)

Strikers: Pulido (90.6%), Shelton/Hurtado (4.7%)

What do you think? Did I get the lineup right? If you voted for something different, tell us in the comments (or go to BuildLineup.com or a similar site and show us). What is your ideal Starting XI? Let’s talk about it! There isn’t enough lineup discussion for my liking.