OUT - Kendall McIntosh (adductor), Remi Walter (knee)
QUESTIONABLE - Gadi Kinda (foot), Graham Zusi (hamstring)
It seems Sporting KC can’t have nice things. For once Alan Pulido returns from international duty uninjured but it seems Gadi Kinda picked up an injury, though it’s unclear if this was in training or when he was away with Israel. Zusi and Walter are new additions after picking up injuries in the draw against Austin FC last weekend.
Starting XI Predictions
Rotation can wait. What’s the best available lineup?
It seems Busio is the #6
Last week, with Nicolas Isimat-Mirin off the injury report, I was sure that he’d push Ilie Sanchez forward and Gianluca Busio could be used in one of the many spots he was needed in. That didn’t happen. Now, Isi isn’t fully fit, so maybe it still all happens. But if the need seemed that great and there are plenty of healthy CBs, yet Vermes didn’t make a change, it tells me two things.
First, PV sees what I’ve been seeing, Busio’s best spot on this team is at defensive midfielder. It might not be his best spot long-term, overseas, but his ability to maintain possession and link the lines makes him invaluable.
Let’s Talk Center Backs
And second, Ilie is the starting center back next to Andreu Fontas... for now. It’s worked shockingly well since the pairing were forced together following injuries (Isi) and inconsistent form from the other rostered CBs. I’m not even sure if Isi is healthy that PV would make the change. This week will probably see rotation anyways because Sporting will play three times in the next eight days, including games against current playoff teams (Portland and Colorado) as well as another likely playoff team (LAFC).
A lot has been put on Sporting playing bad opponents. If this CB pairing keeps winning against better teams, that has to silence the doubters, right?
What if Gadi Kinda Can’t Go?
Kinda is a surprise addition to the injury report. It was thought he’d just miss one game due to international duty but now his status is up in the air. When he wasn’t available last weekend due to travelling with Israel, Remi Walter and Roger Espinoza were paired together. It didn’t work well but when Walter went down with an injury, Felipe Hernandez worked really well. He played free, fast and loose. He was dangerous offensively and just generally gave a spark to the entire team.
I’d start Hernandez, but a complete shuffle is what will probably happen (Isi in, Ilie forward, Busio forward) since I’ve abandoned that prediction.
What did SKC II Tell Us?
The only Sporting KC players on loan with SKC II were Tyler Freeman (two goals Wednesday), Brooks Thompson, Kayden Pierre and Ozzie Cisneros. None of them have appeared in a first team game... ever. Someone like Freeman is pushing to at least be on the bench, but I doubt we see any of them this week.
Those who don’t play (or travel) with SKC could see action Sunday for the second team.
Russell is Back, Right?
Johnny Russell started against Austin FC, so one would think he’s taken back his right wing spot after struggling with injuries. The team could take it slow, but I think he’s ready. He played really well and even though he wasn’t always perfect, he created a lot of chances in that game. That should relegate Khiry Shelton to the bench with Alan Pulido also back.
Rest of the 20: Pulskamp, Harris, Duke, Rad, Shelton, Barber, Freeman, Puncec, Dia
Lots of youth on the bench (again). Let’s hope PV isn’t afraid to use them.
It’s lovely that Brooks Thompson or his mom is on here voting. In all seriousness, if I said before the season the highest vote receiving defenders would be Fontas and Martins and that you guys would want them in defense, I doubt you’d believe me. I was in on Fontas, but it took some convincing on Martins.
The only change for you guys is that Kinda is expected to start, before it was known he was questionable. Knowing that, what changes for you?
Here is your lineup and full vote tallies by category (with the starters in italics):
Goalkeepers: Melia (98.7%), Thompson (1.3%)
Defenders: Fontas (94.9%), Martins (80.8%), Lindsey (65.4%), Ilie (55.1%), Isimat-Mirin (42.3%), Zusi (32.1%), Dia (10.3%), Puncec (9.0%), Rad/Smith/Pierre (1.3%)
Midfielders: Busio (94.9%), Kinda (82.1%), Espinoza (74.4%), Ilie (24.4%), Hernandez (10.3%), Walter (3.8%), Zusi (2.6%), Barber/Cisneros/Duke (1.3%)
Wingers: Salloi (92.3%), Russell (91.0%), Shelton (6.4%), Busio/Barber (3.8%), Kinda (1.3%)
Strikers: Pulido (88.5%), Shelton (5.1%), Russell (2.6%), Harris/Kinda/Busio (1.3%)
What do you think? Did I get the lineup right? If you voted for something different, tell us in the comments. 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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