QUESTIONABLE - None
Vermes: Pulido surgery went well and he is progressing really well. Lindsay had a little setback but is progressing - they should be the only two unavailable #SportingKC— Thad (@TheBackpost) October 15, 2021
We’ve updated the “personal reasons” for Felipe Hernandez to what is now known as a suspension for betting on two MLS games. Also, Pulido was added to the list after his knee surgery. It’s unfortunate to hear that Jaylin Lindsey had a setback, but there is a multi-game week coming up after the Sounders game next weekend, so if he could give Graham Zusi a rest that’d be great.
One good thing implied from Thad’s Tweet is that Daniel Salloi and Gadi Kinda are available after being away on international duty this week. They didn’t have to quarantine last time they returned, so this is consistent with that. Not having them both would have been crushing. Who even starts at left wing then if Salloi was gone? Grayson Barber? I’m not sure he’s ready (though I’m good with him getting on more as a sub for sure).
Starting XI Predictions
Let’s get to it.
Is Roger Espinoza a Starter?
For a really long time, Roger Espinoza has been a starter at one of the dual #8 positions in the Sporting Kansas City midfield. And let’s be frank, he probably still is. However, before this break, Remi Walter started two straight games in Roger’s spot both against FC Dallas and the Houston Dynamo. It could be Peter finally giving Espinoza a well deserved rest.
However, Remi has played some of his best soccer in recent matches and maybe he’s finally earned that job and pushed Roger into a substitute role. Roger is out of contract at the end of the year. This could be the end of the line. I could absolutely see another one year deal to keep him around but with him working on his coaching licenses, he’s planning for life beyond playing soccer. I’ll go ahead and predict Roger starts, but I’m not confident.
Who Plays Striker?
Just kidding, it’s Khiry Shelton. The team has been winning with him in the lineup and he deserves to start. But I really want to see Wilson Harris get some meaningful minutes. He’s played more consistently for SKC II, which will be good for his confidence, but he still only has two USL goals this year (and none in very limited MLS minutes). If he’s going to continue not to play for the first team and just ride the bench, he should be on loan with the second team where he can get minutes and gain valuable experience. I think he’s a capable goal scorer and if you put Salloi and Russell next to him, plus Kinda interchanging behind him, that will come out.
What Did SKC II Tell Us?
Speaking of the second team, they played on Wednesday and actually won over Atlanta United 2. Except they didn’t as they had to forfeit for playing a suspended player (Jake Davis). In addition to Davis, John Pulskamp, Graham Smith, Kayden Pierre, Ozzie Cisneros and Grayson Barber all featured for SKC II. None of them are regular contributors to the first team, so it likely won’t impact this weekend’s lineup.
It’s Isi Time, Right?
After all this rest, Nicolas Isimat-Mirin has to be ready to go since he’s been absent from the injury report for a bit (despite one brief reappearance). He doesn’t need to play every game down the stretch, but if you are counting on him to be a force in the playoffs, he needs to start getting games before then (which is why I doubt Pulido will be able to have a big impact since his return won’t allow him to get match fit). Ilie Sanchez has been solid in relief, but the team is better with Isi next to Andreu Fontas.
Rest of the 20: Pulskamp, Harris, Walter, Dia, Barber, Davis, Rad, Ilie, Duke
This bench is probably wrong. If this is the bench, and because Peter doesn’t realize he has five subs, I’d guess Walter, Duke and Ilie get into the game.
You guys feel like it’s Walter over Espinoza. You could very well be right. Otherwise, we are in line on our lineup predictions.
Here is your lineup and vote tallies (if a player gets at least 5% he’s listed) by category (with the starters in italics):
Goalkeepers: Melia (100%)
Defenders: Martins (100%), Fontas/Zusi (94.4%), Isimat-Mirin (66.7%), Ilie (38.9%), Smith (5.6%)
Midfielders: Mauri (83.3%), Walter/Kinda (72.2%), Espinoza (50.0%), Duke/Ilie (11.1%)
Wingers: Russell (100%), Salloi (88.9%), Shelton/Barber (5.6%)
Strikers: Shelton (61.1%), Harris (27.8%), Kinda, Pulido (5.6%)
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