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Sporting KC Injury Update and Starting XI Predictions Versus Seattle Sounders

The player availability point sees marked improvement.

MLS: Seattle Sounders at Sporting KC
Sporting KC forward Johnny Russell (7) passes the ball against Seattle Sounders defender Nouhou Tolo (5) during the second half at Children’s Mercy Park.
Peter G. Aiken

Sporting Kansas City are fighting for a seat at the top of the table and the top of the league against the Seattle Sounders on Sunday night. A win won’t quite get them there, but a loss would put them eight points behind.

Injury/Availability Updates

OUT - Alan Pulido (Int. Duty - Mexico), Gianluca Busio (Int. Duty - USA), Felipe Hernandez (personal reasons), Tyler Freeman (Health and Safety Protocols), Grayson Barber (Health and Safety Protocols)

QUESTIONABLE - None

We got confirmation of the players who are in the health and safety protocols: Freeman and Barber. It was thought Ilie Sanchez was one of the players as he was nowhere to be seen on Wednesday. That would seem to indicate he’s available (though I have my doubts). Plus Roberto Puncec was removed from the ‘undisclosed’ questionable designation — though I don’t expect to see him anytime soon (if ever).

Update 7/25/21: It seems like Ilie will be available. Sub him in for Walters in my predictions alone.

Starting XI Predictions

Short rest. Turf. Injuries and absences. So much to factor in this week.

Cam Duke is a Freaking Delight

When I predicted him to start Wednesday, first I thought it would be for the injured Gadi Kinda and second, I never expected him to explode like that.

I suspect he’ll have to come off the bench this time though. He was the man of the match for Peter Vermes (and many others) on Wednesday but the coaching staff specifically saved Roger Espinoza for Seattle by not starting him Wednesday. The only way I see Duke starting is if Kinda can’t go because he’s coming off injury (or doesn’t have starter minutes left in his legs).

Who is Playing Defensive Midfielder?

I’d expect it’s Ilie, but I’m not sure what’s going on with him. He wasn’t in the lineup on Wednesday and he’s not listed as being under COVID protocols in the injury report. Something doesn’t make sense.

Remi Walter played the role and played well on Wednesday but he came off at the half and Graham Zusi moved to that spot. I thought Walter looked good in the first half and Zusi was fine but the San Jose Earthquakes play different than basically any other team. Not much was asked of either guy in that role, less so with Zusi. It’ll be interesting to see how either of them handle a much better team. I’d expect Walter would get the start if Ilie is for some reason not available.

Shelton Probably Starts, Right?

Wilson Harris got the start on Wednesday, and in my estimation, he played well. But I’d expect a veteran like Khiry Shelton to get the start over him against Seattle. However, I wouldn’t rule out seeing Harris as there are basically no other forwards available and Daniel Salloi and Johnny Russell played the full 90 on Wednesday. I could see Shelton slipping out to the wing and Harris coming on, since Khiry should be the most fresh forward.

What did SKC II Tell Us?

Basically nothing. Only Kendall McIntosh and Ozzie Cisneros were with the second team when they played the OKC Energy FC (and only McIntosh played). That should have no impact as neither player has appeared for the first team yet since signing.

Rest of the 20: Pulskamp, Harris, Duke, Rad, Dia, Smith, Pierre, Lindsey, [empty]

Lots of youth on the bench but Harris, Duke and Lindsey have proved they should be playing in each game going forward. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Amadou Dia if Luis Martins struggled again like on Wednesday (Seattle will make him pay if he turns the ball over in bad spots like that again).

Fan XI

There was a draw on who will start at right back. I leaned towards Zusi because Lindsey is recovering from injury, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see them both.

Outside of that the midfield vote was so split up that it seems maybe Roger Espinoza is playing d-mid? It surely can’t be Duke or Kinda who were also voted as starters. I’ll chalk this up to a weird vote and that’s unlikely to be what you want but that the #6 voting was just so split it led to a weird tally.

The rest you all agree with me.

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

Goalkeepers: Melia (96.1%), McIntosh/Pulskamp/Thompson (1.3%)

Defenders: Fontas (89.6%), Isimat-Mirin (83.1%), Martins (70.1%), Zusi/Lindsey (50.6%), Dia (20.8%), Ilie (15.6%), Puncec/Rad (6.5%), Pierre (3.9%), Smith (1.3%)

Midfielders: Kinda (70.1%), Espinoza/Duke (63.6%), Ilie (36.4%), Walter (35.1%), Hernandez (14.3%), Zusi (9.1%), Barber (3.9%), Cisneros/Freeman (2.6%)

Wingers: Salloi (93.5%), Russell (89.6%), Shelton/Kinda/Barber/Duke (5.2%)

Strikers: Shelton (63.6%), Harris (31.2%), Salloi (3.9%), Russell/Freeman (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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