Sporting Kansas City are an anomaly. They are quite obviously one of the best teams in the league at times. They proved that with two road wins over the Seattle Sounders, as well as dominating victories over much of the Western Conference. But then they go and have losses like the recent ones to Minnesota United and the Vancouver Whitecaps. They can’t afford to do that mid-week against last place Austin FC.
OUT - Felipe Hernandez (suspension), Jaylin Lindsey (hamstring), Alan Pulido (knee surgery), Amadou Dia (suspension)
QUESTIONABLE - None
PV: everyone healing well, Pulido is running, could be available for this weekend's game #SportingKC— Thad (@TheBackpost) November 2, 2021
Daniel Salloi and Jose Mauri are off the injury report (with both appearing in Sunday’s loss against Minnesota United) and Alan Pulido inching closer to return. Our own Thad Bell is reporting that Pulido could be available on the weekend, presumably meaning he’s out midweek.
Also, Amadou Dia was suspended, unsurprisingly, from his awful challenge on Emmanuel Reynoso. I mused during the game wondering if this was the last time we’d see him in a Sporting KC uniform. The team holds an option for 2022, but a play like that won’t sit well with anyone.
Starting XI Predictions
It’s the fourth game of five in 15. Essentially no rest has been handed out so far. Isimat-Mirin was the only real rotation (Melia just returned from suspension). Something has to give.
Salloi Back In?
Daniel Salloi returned and got 36 minutes last weekend. However, he didn’t quite look like himself. He was out there, but it felt like a move trying to make something happen more than Salloi being fully ready to return. For me, the risk isn’t worth it. I’d rather he come off the bench against Austin than him start and Vermes potentially play him too long. It’s more important to have him in the playoffs and potentially on Decision Day at home against RSL.
However, I imagine Peter will start him.
If Salloi Starts, I’m Begging for some Rest Elsewhere
I imagine Johnny Russell will play again because if one forward is only running when he absolutely has to, it’s got to be Johnny. Then that means Shelton could go to the bench and Wilson Harris could be the third forward (Gadi Kinda needs a rest too).
However, let me make a radical case. Play one of the current starters (Shelton or Russell), preferably Shelton (but probably Russell), and play more defensive. Start Grayson Barber with Harris and be willing to sit back a bit. Harris and Barber (along with Shelton) are actually quite good on the counter. Then if the game is close, go full speed on subs and bring on Salloi, Russell and maybe even Kinda to go for it. I have no doubt they can run hard at the end and have enough to start on Decision Day.
Any Other Moves?
With Dia picking up a stupid suspension, I expect the defense to be the “starters:” Isi, Fontas, Zusi and Martins. Zusi is 35, so the case could be made to play someone like midfielder Jake Davis (who played some RB with SKC II and is more defensively sound) or give an MLS debut to Kayden Pierre, who is quite improved from the beginning of 2021.
The midfield is more in question, but Ilie can probably resume his role, play Walters for his presence and Duke for his legs. The team can make five subs, though they rarely do, but if the “starters” are on the bench, PV will be more likely to make those moves.
Seattle only got a point at home against the Galaxy. If SKC’s lineup of half backups can’t earn a draw at the worst team in the West, that’s not great. Take a chance and keep legs fresh for Real Salt Lake.
So, we all know PV will probably run out the same lineup again. Maybe the “weather” will change his mind. Just kidding, it’ll be cool and rainy in Austin.
Rest of the 20: Pulskamp, Shelton, Kinda, Salloi, Davis, Rad, Puncec, Espinoza, Mauri
Look at the firepower!
There is some definite voting for rotation, even if it’s not enough to switch much. Particularly at right back, in the midfield and at striker. Look at that three-way midfield tie... bizarre.
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 (97.7%)
Defenders: Martins/Isimat-Mirin (83.7%), Fontas (81.4%), Zusi (69.8%), Dia/Pierre (16.3%), Ilie (11.6%), Puncec/Rad (9.3%)
Midfielders: Walter (69.8%), Ilie/Duke/Mauri (53.5%), (38.6%), Kinda (46.5%), Espinoza (14.0%)
Wingers: Salloi (88.4%), Russell (74.4%), Shelton (23.3%), Barber (14.0%)
Strikers: Shelton (48.8%), Harris (39.5%), Kinda (14.0%)
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