Sporting Kansas City are about to embark on a stretch of 22 days that they will play seven times during. It starts Saturday against FC Dallas, but includes midweek games against LAFC, Leon (Liga MX opponent in a League’s Cup game) and the Portland Timbers (along with weekend games that whole run). The team is already down a few players and with so much soccer, it won’t surprise me to see more injury and fatigue based absences in the next three weeks.
OUT - Alan Pulido (Int. Duty - Mexico), Gianluca Busio (Int. Duty - USA), Felipe Hernandez (personal reasons), Amadou Dia (Health & Safety Protocols), Grayson Barber (Health & Safety Protocols)
QUESTIONABLE - Cam Duke (hamstring)
Official #SportingKC Injury / Availability Report:— Chad Smith (@PlayFor90) July 30, 2021
OUT: Dia & Barber (Healthy & Safety Protocols), Busio (Int. Duty), Pulido (Int. Duty), Hernandez (Personal Reasons)
QUESTIONABLE: Duke (hamstring)
Dia is a new addition with Freeman coming out of COVID protocols. Duke is new.
Tyler Freeman is now out of the MLS Health and Safety Protocols but Amadou Dia is a new addition to the list. A possibly more impactful blow is that of Cam Duke appearing on the injury report after having a marvelous substitute appearance and a first ever professional goal last weekend against the Seattle Sounders.
Starting XI Predictions
I don’t expect there to be rotation in the first of seven games in 22 days, but it should be a consideration in the sub patterns.
Who is Playing Defensive Midfielder?
For the last two games, Remi Walter has been the starter at the defensive (or holding) midfield role. The 6. One game, he was replaced by Graham Zusi (as Ilie wasn’t in the lineup at all). The next he was replaced by Ilie.
I thought Walter played some of his best soccer in a Kansas City uniform over that time. However, I can’t shake the feeling that he was just keeping the spot warm until Ilie was back. We’ll see if that’s actually true.
What I do know is I didn’t like him nearly as much when he moved into the #8 spot last game or any of his previous games. I expect Kinda and Espinoza to start in those roles.
What did SKC II Tell Us?
Sporting KC II played midweek at home against Louisville City. The lineup had four loanees: John Pulskamp, Graham Smith, Kayden Pierre and Ozzie Cisneros. Only Pulskamp has actually played for the first team this year and that’s unlikely to happen again as long as Tim Melia is healthy. There should be no impact from those loans.
Who is the Striker?
In the last two games, there have been two different starting strikers. Wilson Harris got the midweek game against San Jose and Khiry Shelton started the weekend matchup with Seattle. It’s worth remembering, that before the international break, Alan Pulido was injured and had already left early to join Mexico and Khiry Shelton got that start too. I suspect Shelton is the starter, but I’d personally love for it to be Harris. I thought the offense flowed through him pretty well. He wasn’t perfect but more time on the field will bring him along more quickly.
No Other Changes
I don’t expect any other changes. There are only two wingers basically getting starts (which could become an issue deeper into this tight stretch of games). Fontas, Isimat-Mirin and Martins are penciled in starters at this point. And while Jaylin Lindsey probably deserves some time at RB, Graham Zusi is playing his best soccer since 2018. There will be a need for rotation at some point, just not against Dallas probably.
Rest of the 20: Pulskamp, Harris, Duke, Rad, Smith, Pierre, Lindsey, Freeman, Cisneros
With the second team being at home Sunday, lots of guys that won’t play can be on the bench.
Outside of the midfield we are in agreement. I think that shows a few things. First, there is a lot of depth in the midfield that even when there are injuries and missing players, there are a lot of quality guys to choose from. Second, no one had the info that Duke was questionable when they cast their votes, so there were legit five guys who could step in.
Here is your lineup and full vote tallies by category (with the starters in italics):
Goalkeepers: Melia (100%)
Defenders: Fontas (92.9%), Isimat-Mirin (88.1%), Martins (70.2%), Zusi (56.0%), Lindsey (46.4%), Dia (25.0%), Ilie (9.5%), Puncec (4.8%), Rad (3.6%), Smith (1.2%)
Midfielders: Kinda (78.6%), Ilie (56.0%), Walter (53.6%), Duke (50.0%), Espinoza (48.8%), Hernandez (8.3%), Zusi (3.6%)
Wingers: Salloi (97.6%), Russell (96.4%), Duke (3.6%), Shelton (2.4%)
Strikers: Shelton (73.8%), Harris (22.6%), Salloi (2.4%), Kinda (1.2%)
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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