Sporting Kansas City have been up and down in 2021. Sunday provides an opportunity to spring back to life again at home against the Vancouver Whitecaps.
OUT - None
QUESTIONABLE - Nicolas Isimat-Mirin (hamstring), Roberto Puncec (hamstring), Johnny Russell (groin), Tim Melia (chest)
Russell and Melia were added to the report but Felipe Hernandez fell off of it. Time for the new defensive midfielder experiment?
Official #SportingKC Injury Report:— Chad Smith (@PlayFor90) May 15, 2021
Questionable: Isimat-Mirin (hamstring), Puncec (hamstring), Russell (groin), Melia (chest)
Felipe Hernandez is off the report which is progress. #SKCvVAN
Starting XI Predictions
Third game in eight days, something has to give, right?
What did SKC II Tell Us?
Sporting KC II trotted out seven players on loan from the first team. Tyler Freeman and Ozzie Cisneros only played 45 minutes, so they could be available to sit the bench (or come on late) versus the Caps. Freeman seems more likely to make his first team debut than Ozzie.
Kayden Pierre, Graham Smith and Amadou Dia all played the full 90 so they seem unlikely to be available and Grayson Barber played deep into the second half.
The XI #SKCvCOS kicks off at 7pm CT on ESPN Plus! #OneSportingWay— Sporting KC II (@SportingKCII) May 14, 2021
Stream: https://t.co/HS5gnDSbkH pic.twitter.com/Gy9Gx9ABhM
With Puncec and Isimat-Mirin unlikely to be available as they recover from their muscle injuries and Graham Smith basically unavailable after playing 90 minutes (much of it down a man), there are basically three available CBs. Likely starter Andreu Fontas, 19-year-old Kaveh Rad and d-mid turned CB (mid-week at least) Ilie Sanchez.
It’ll probably be Ilie and Fontas but their lack of pace caught up with them on the only goal against Houston (mostly that’s on Gadi Kinda for a bad turnover). I’d play Rad and Fontas and have Ilie in your back pocket as needed.
Graham Zusi, right?
Zusi got the start last weekend then wasn’t even in the lineup mid-week as he tries to work back to full fitness. However, what he lacks in defensive prowess, he makes up for in offense. He played some of the best crosses and switches of the game against Austin FC. I suspect he’ll start and play as long as he can before Jaylin Lindsey replaces him.
There are only four healthy forwards who didn’t already play for SKC II on Friday: Alan Pulido, Daniel Salloi, Khiry Shelton and Wilson Harris. I suspect it’ll be the first three taking the field, but Peter Vermes needs to be careful with Pulido. He was clearly out of gas for much of the second half against Houston and they need him long-term. PV may feel forced to play him now that Tata Martinez has called him into the National Team for games at the end of the month and beginning of June.
There is always a chance Gianluca Busio plays the false nine again as in the first two games of the season. He did it well and, right or wrong, it feels more likely than Wilson Harris getting a start. I’m all about Harris though and I’d be open to him starting and Pulido or Busio sliding into that role if needed.
The Midfield Trio
This is tricky too. If Busio slides forward, that leaves five starting caliber midfielders: Roger Espinoza, Gadi Kinda, Remi Walter, Ilie and Felipe Hernandez. With Espinoza coming on late against Houston, it’s possible it’s just too much to ask him to start. I’d have rather he sat out Wednesday and remained ready to start Sunday. I personally bet he still starts and it’s Kinda that comes off the bench for a spark.
Rest of the 20: McIntosh, Lindsey, Kinda, Harris, Duke, Freeman, Cisneros, Rad, [empty]
I’m going to predict right now that Cam Duke makes his 2021 MLS debut. And it’s not entirely out of the question that Tyler Freeman makes his first team debut overall.
The cries for Amadou Dia have grown loud based on your voting but I have the hindsight of knowing he already played 90 minutes to not make that guess. Luis Martins will start into perpetuity because he got one assist you all!!
You all also remain optimistic for the return of Isi, but I’d guess it’s next week at the earliest. The voting was also probably skewed because Ilie wasn’t in the poll in defense (that’s been remedied). The winger vote was interesting to me. We all know Russell was injured just a couple days ago yet he still pulled in 25% of the vote and Shelton came in pretty low though it feels obvious that he’ll start at RW to me (it’s his best spot too).
Here is your lineup and full vote tallies by category (with the starters in italics):
Goalkeepers: Melia (70.5%), Pulskamp (29.5%)
Defenders: Fontas (81.8%), Dia (79.5%), Zusi (68.2%), Isimat-Mirin (56.8%), Lindsey/Rad (27.3%), Martins (11.4%), Puncec/Smith/Ilie (9.1%), Pierre (4.5%)
Midfielders: Busio (65.9%), Ilie (63.6%), Walter (56.8%), Espinoza (47.7%), Kinda (43.2%), Duke (9.1%), Hernandez (4.5%)
Wingers: Salloi (81.8%), Shelton (63.6%), Russell (25.0%), Freeman/Busio (6.8%), Barber/Kinda (4.5%), Pulido (2.3%)
Strikers: Pulido (77.3%), Harris (15.9%), Russell (4.5%), Shelton (2.3%)
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). Knowing what you know now, how would you change your lineup? What is your ideal Starting XI? Let’s talk about it!
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