Sporting Kansas City are having quite the week. They earned big wins over the formerly first place Seattle Sounders (2-1 in Seattle) and over the LA Galaxy (2-0 in KC). Now they look to make it three in a row against Minnesota United to close out a busy week and a busy end of the season.
QUESTIONABLE - Daniel Salloi (ankle)
That’s improvement for SKC as Jose Mauri is removed from the injury report, and just in time as the midfield almost certainly needs rotation.
Here is the report out of Hungary. I've been told that in Europe, often "torn ligaments" are just ankle sprains. So let's hope that's all it is. https://t.co/KgLp81usz7— Chad Smith (@PlayFor90) October 26, 2021
Starting XI Predictions
Two nearly identical lineups just a few days apart (besides the Tim Melia suspension), so something has to give eventually on some sort of rotation.
Shuffle the Midfield?
Ilie Sanchez has played well back in his defensive midfielder spot, but he may be needed elsewhere (see below). Plus, I really think Roger Espinoza shouldn’t be starting three games in a week. Remi Walter seems to be a regular starter now, so I’d keep Gadi Kinda at false 9 (since there is apparently no hope to put Wilson Harris in the lineup... ever). Then the returning Jose Mauri can step into the defensive midfield (though I think unless he shows something in the next three games he’s not the playoff starter — maybe next year).
That leaves Cam Duke available to start for Roger. I think that’s a good move as he started against Minnesota last time out, scored a goal, and just generally plays really well when given a chance. He deserves to start and legs need rest!
Isi Should Get a Rest, Right?
Nicolas Isimat-Mirin has started back-to-back games after not making a start for two and a half months (he did have a 14 minute sub appearance in there). Every time he takes the field, particularly on short rest, I worry. Even though he made a couple mistakes against the LA Galaxy, the team was better with him in the defense. The risk seems too great in Minnesota, especially when Ilie started at CB last time these teams faced each other and SKC won 4-0. Hell, rest Isi against Austin FC if you need to as well. Just make sure he can go in the playoffs.
How do SKC II loans impact the lineup?
Four Sporting KC players went on loan to Oakland with the second team, none of which have appeared in an MLS game this year. They were Kendall McIntosh, Ozzie Cisneros, Graham Smith and Kayden Pierre. That essentially rules out the unlikely rotation of Graham Zusi at RB but nothing else should be in play.
What it does say is that Wilson Harris, Grayson Barber, Jake Davis and Kaveh Rad, who are often with the second team, are available, even if they ultimately don’t get on the field.
Rest of the 20: Pulskamp, Harris, Dia, Barber, Davis, Rad, Isimat-Mirin, Puncec, Espinoza
Another tie in the midfield voting, the weirdness continues. Either way, that’s Espinoza going to the bench, which makes sense instead of playing him three times in eight days. However, the rest of your starting lineup remains the same.
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: Fontas (96.5%), Zusi/Martins (86.0%), Isimat-Mirin (77.2%), Ilie (21.1%), Pierre/Puncec (8.8%), Dia (7.1%), Smith (5.3%)
Midfielders: Walter (86.0%), Ilie (66.7%), Duke/Mauri (38.6%), Espinoza (36.8%), Kinda (31.6%)
Wingers: Russell (91.2%), Shelton (61.4%), Salloi (26.3%), Barber (14.0%), Duke (8.8%)
Strikers: Kinda (57.9%), Shelton (24.6%), Harris (15.8%)
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