Sporting Kansas City have just three days off and a couple new injuries before taking on FC Cincinnati on the road. Though they are the league’s worst team, you just never know in MLS. They did beat the Columbus Crew just a couple games ago.
Update 5:30 PM CST: Now Peter Vermes says Reid and Busio could actually play. The remainder of the story remains unchanged other than moving them to questionable.
Gutierrez, Zusi, Busio and Reid listed as not medically cleared on game report but Vermes says Reid and Busio are both available and could play #SportingKC— Thad (@TheBackpost) October 27, 2020
The official injury report comes out Wednesday, but all indications are this is accurate based on the information released by SKC and Cincy.
QUESTIONABLE - Gianluca Busio (not medically cleared), Winston Reid (groin)
Starting XI Predictions
No Busio or Reid, so some decisions must be made.
No Busio. Who Plays Left Wing?
That feels weird to write but here we are once again with Busio playing on the left wing (his fourth position of the year) and he’s probably looked like he could be the best player at that spot too. But he’ll miss Wednesday’s game with an injury, so who plays here? A lot of course depends on who you play at right wing. The logical decision is probably keep running Johnny Russell out there, but if there was ever a game to give him a break, this would be it. Cincy is terrible and Russell can come off the bench if he’s needed.
I’d start Khiry Shelton at RW if Russell gets a break and Gerso Fernandes seems to be the next winger up, so I’ll play him at LW. He came on and redeemed himself with a delightful chip to score late against Colorado, give him the start.
I’ll concede I’m probably wrong on Russell and if that’s the case Shelton could start on the left. But I’ll go with my gut.
Is there Anymore Rotation?
If both wingers are rotated that is about on par with what Vermes likes to do in terms of changes to remain consistent. One more candidate I’d recommend is Roger Espinoza. He didn’t come off until the 81st minute and he just turned 34 this past weekend. I’d give him a rest but with no Busio available, it would seem Felipe Hernandez could be inline for another start.
What about the Defense?
Andreu Fontas got a surprise start on Saturday when Winston Reid was injured during warmups. He had some shaky moments with some turnovers that thankfully didn’t turn into anything, but he redeemed himself with his first career MLS goal. Considering he was put into the lineup 10 minutes before kickoff, he played really well and put himself in unique company. He also joined Alan Pulido on the MLS Team of the Week.
It’s also telling that Matt Besler didn’t get the start and Fontas was started over him. Besler is out of contract at the end of the year but Fontas is signed through 2022. Might as well figure out what you have in a player you are paying a lot of money. This could also be a case of Besler being questionable and since that information is no longer disclosed due to COVID-19 changes to the injury report, we just don’t get to find this out.
As far as the other defenders, they’ve all been quite good, so I see no need to change that. If anything, if the game is in hand, maybe sub on Luis Martins to give Dia a break since he’s pushing forward far more than Jaylin Lindsey and may be a bit more fatigued.
Rest of the 20: John Pulskamp, Matt Besler, Cameron Duke, Erik Hurtado, Luis Martins, Roger Espinoza, Johnny Russell, Daniel Salloi, Graham Smith
Could this be the rare game where Tim Melia gets a break heading into the playoffs? I doubt it, but it’s the only one I could see them maybe getting John Pulskamp out there. One this I absolutely want to see if earlier subs. Sporting were firmly in control against Colorado yet they didn’t make their 2nd (and 3rd) subs until the 81st minute and their final two until stoppage time. Don’t run Russell, Pulido, Kinda and others into the ground with the playoffs right around the corner.
Because I went so rogue, you guys have a bit of a different lineup. Also, you didn’t know Busio would be out, so that throws the voting into a bit of a mess. By default that moves Espinoza to midfield starter despite such a small percentage of the vote. Knowing what you know now, let us know in the chat who you’d start.
Here is your lineup and full vote tallies by category (with the starters in italics):
Goalkeepers: Melia (98.8%), Pulskamp (1.2%)
Defenders: Lindsey (95.1%), Dia (81.7%), Puncec (70.7%), Reid (61.0%), Fontas (40.2%), Smith (20.7%), Martins (19.5%), Besler (8.5%)
Midfielders: Kinda (84.1%),
Busio/Ilie (75.6%), Espinoza (34.1%), Hernandez (24.4%), Duke/Kuzain (3.7%)
Wingers: Russell (74.4%), Shelton (54.9%), Gerso (46.3%), Busio (14.6%), Salloi (7.3%), Freeman (2.4%)
Strikers: Pulido (92.7%), Hurtado (6.1%), Russell (1.2%)