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Sporting KC Injury Update and Starting XI Predictions Versus Colorado Rapids

Is it time to rotate on short rest?

MLS: Colorado Rapids at Sporting Kansas City Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Sporting Kansas City are heading into their second game in just five days with a third coming in eight this weekend. Rotation time?

Injury/Availability Updates

OUT - Kendall McIntosh (adductor), Remi Walter (knee)

QUESTIONABLE - Gadi Kinda (foot), Graham Zusi (hamstring)

No changes from Saturday’s road game. Not a big surprise with it being a quick turnaround.

Starting XI Predictions

The story of this game is a few different things. It’s the second game in five days, as mentioned above. And it’s in the middle of a three game in eight day window. Often times teams will rotate on their midweek game and be fresh again the next weekend and I think that’s the go to strategy. Then it’s a full week’s rest for many players between three of the four games.

However, that’s not usually how Peter Vermes plays it. Typically, he’s much more likely to run out the same lineup midweek and do some mild rotation on the weekend. Plus, the Colorado Rapids are just a point behind Kansas City while LAFC (the weekend opponent) are back eight points in the standings. So for that reason, I suspect PV will stick to his regular plan and do less rotation, but there are still questions.

Midfield Dominos — You Gotta Rotate Roger, Right?

While I think most players can play again on short rest, there are some questions. The first one is Roger Espinoza. It’s pretty clear to me, he shouldn’t start back-to-back games from the weekend and in the midweek. Maybe a case could be made if he came off early on the weekend, but he played 80 minutes. As someone a bit older than Roger, it’s odd I’d pick on him for being 34, but in soccer that’s a bit old (unless you are a goalkeeper). Plus the style Roger plays requires full rest.

The question becomes, who moves into that spot. Remi Walter is supposed to be the other guy playing that role on the roster, but he’s out as of Monday’s injury reporting. Felipe Hernandez also plays that role, but he started in place of Gadi Kinda and may be needed there again. That just leaves a couple options. Cam Duke gets his first start of 2021, which frankly I’m fine with that idea. Otherwise...

Does Ilie Finally Move Back to the Midfield?

I’ve been saying Ilie Sanchez will stay at center back as long as it works. Technically, it didn’t work on Saturday as Sporting KC lost for the first time after going four straight unbeaten. I personally wouldn’t mess with what is working in most cases (and SKC still played really well in that loss to the Portland Timbers) but with rotation potentially needed, it could be a good time to get Nicolas Isimat-Mirin on the field. Ilie can take his d-mid spot and Busio can move forward into midfield. I’m completely fine with Cam Duke starting, but I think this scenario is more likely.

I said I’d stop predicting that Busio plays anywhere but the 6, but I can’t help myself.

All these words written, and maybe Kinda is just healthy enough and it is all a mute point.

What did SKC II Tell Us?

Sporting II played over the weekend (or the ‘twos’ as that awful FC Tulsa announcer says) and they featured appearances by Tyler Freeman, Graham Smith, Kayden Pierre, John Pulskamp and Ozzie Cisneros. Freeman really deserves to at least be on the bench with the first time and frankly he’s probably earned his first MLS appearance, but SKC II also play Wednesday at the exact same time. Watch social media to see who travels to play OKC Energy FC to get the tiniest bit of insight (then let me know because I don’t pay much attention to social media).

No Other Changes

I don’t anticipate any other changes. It’s possibly Khiry Shelton could start as Russell may be still working his way back to full fitness, though he looked good against Portland. If only he could find the back of the net. Wild he hasn’t scored this year.

Rest of the 20: Pulskamp, Harris, Duke, Rad, Shelton, Barber, Freeman, Espinoza, Dia

I’m tempted to leave players off the bench (KC were one player short last weekend) but I’ll still predict a full bench, though, I’d like some of these guys to play for SKC II instead of just riding the pine.

Fan XI

One bad game and Fontas suddenly drops like 10 points in the voting (though it could be skewed by a short window to vote and voting dropping overall). He wasn’t great over the weekend. Hopefully it’s an aberration and not a trend. You all also agreed that Isi could be the starting CB and gave an equal hit to Martins in the voting (also, not his best game — I should stop praising him).

Frankly I’m surprised you all think Espinoza will start. Maybe I shouldn’t be. Maybe you know PV better than I’m willing to admit. Everything else you have the same.

Here is your lineup and full vote tallies by category (with the starters in italics):

Goalkeepers: Melia (100%)

Defenders: Lindsey (91.1%), Fontas (86.7%), Martins (73.3%), Isimat-Mirin (48.9%), Ilie (40.0%), Dia (24.4%), Zusi/Puncec (13.3%) Rad (8.9%)

Midfielders: Busio (97.8%), Espinoza (64.4%), Kinda (51.1%), Hernandez (48.9%), Ilie (35.6%), Duke (2.2%)

Wingers: Salloi (95.6%), Russell (80.0%), Shelton (24.4%)

Strikers: Pulido (88.9%), Shelton (6.7%), Harris (4.4%)

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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