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Sporting KC Injury Update and Starting XI Predictions Versus Colorado Rapids

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Another name is unavailable for Saturday, but for different reasons.

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

Sporting Kansas City are finally getting a full week of rest (except Daniel Salloi who played 45 minutes in the All-Star game Wednesday). We’ll see if it’s just what the doctor ordered to turn some of these home draws, into home wins! The Colorado Rapids might make it a tough one.

Injury/Availability Updates

OUT - Felipe Hernandez (personal reasons), Nicolas Isimat-Mirin (hamstring), Jaylin Lindsey (hamstring), Remi Walter (red card)

QUESTIONABLE - None

Just Walter gets added to the list after his sending off against Minnesota.

Starting XI Predictions

For me, it’s all about one question, that then determines who else plays.

On full rest, this is my Starting XI right now:

(Back to front, right to left): Melia, Zusi, Ilie (since Isi is out), Fontas, Martins, Walter, Espinoza, Kinda, Russell, Pulido and Salloi.

But Walter is out, so how do the dominos fall?

Ilie Could Slide to D-Mid

The most logical pick is Ilie Sanchez. It’s the role he was brought to the team to play, but some need at center back (and having Gianluca Busio available to step in) has caused him to play elsewhere on the pitch. And borderline, I’d prefer him to stay at CB when Isimat-Mirin isn’t healthy. However, the issue may be forced this time because of Walter being out.

If he moves to defensive midfielder, then who plays CB. Roberto Puncec has the most experience, but I’ve been unimpressed with him in limited minutes in 2021 and he wasn’t great in 2020 for my money either. I’d play rookie Kaveh Rad. Andreu Fontas has been a rock and can help the “kid” through in my opinion.

This is my pick, but let’s explore some other options.

But Could Espinoza Play Deeper?

Of all the healthy midfielders not named Ilie, Roger Espinoza is the only one who has a profile that feels like it could maybe fit deeper in the midfield. Gadi Kinda and Cam Duke are more attacking players and I’m not sure they’d fit well into that role. Espinoza seems to be the midfielder who slides deeper when someone makes an attacking run from that spot too (he often covers for Zusi at RB too).

However, I don’t like it. Espinoza can get worn down in games and he’s too apt to overstep on a challenge, which is less okay if he’s the last midfielder back. The only thing I do like about it is it gives us a chance to see more Kinda and Duke paired together, which seems like a mighty dynamic, speedy and troublesome midfield duo.

Let’s not Forget Zusi Played the 6

Early this season I made a ridiculous request to put Graham Zusi in this spot and then PV went and did it (I can only assume he’s an avid TBT reader). However, that’s when Jaylin Lindsey was available at RB. It seems far less likely to move Zusi out of his spot, even if Kayden Pierre is showing great improvement with the second team. If Lindsey was healthy, this may be my preferred move.

Rest of the 20: Pulskamp, Harris, Puncec, Davis, Dia, Barber, Pierre, Shelton, Duke, Smith

If my prediction is right, it’s mostly youth on the bench, yet again. Look for these guys Sunday against Memphis 901 FC.

Fan XI

So, my biggest question was clearly your biggest question. Ilie has just 40% of the vote at CB (but over 50% in the midfield). So realistically, it seems people want to see him start in the midfield, but the CB vote was just so divided. This would be a good day to head to the chat to tell us who should be CB next to Andreu Fontas and how you see the midfield laying out.

Here is your lineup and vote tallies (if a player gets at least 5% he’s listed) by category (with the starters in italics):

Goalkeepers: Melia (100%)

Defenders: Fontas (96.7%), Zusi (93.3%), Martins (81.7%), Ilie (40.0%), Rad (26.7%), Isimat-Mirin (25.0%), Puncec (18.3%), Dia (15.0%)

Midfielders: Kinda (96.7%), Espinoza (81.7%), Duke (58.3%), Ilie (56.7%)

Wingers: Salloi (91.7%), Russell (86.7%), Shelton (11.7%), Barber (8.3%)

Strikers: Pulido (70.0%), Shelton (21.7%), Harris (6.7%)

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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