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Sporting KC Injury Update and Starting XI Predictions Versus Colorado Rapids

And just like that, the list climbs again of unavailable players.

MLS: Sporting Kansas City at Los Angeles FC
Sporting Kansas City forward Khiry Shelton (11) is examined after suffering an apparent injury after a collision with Los Angeles FC goalkeeper Tomas Romero (not pictured) in the first half at Banc of California Stadium. 
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Sporting Kansas City are still on the road as they face the Colorado Rapids on the heels of a huge victory against Los Angeles FC. It’ll be the 3rd of seven games in a 22 day stretch. KC are back in action Tuesday against Club Leon (Liga MX) in the Leagues Cup.

Injury/Availability Updates

OUT - Felipe Hernandez (personal reasons), Ilie Sanchez (yellow card accumulation), Khiry Shelton (abdomen)

QUESTIONABLE - Cam Duke (hamstring)

After it was initially reported that Khiry Shelton was questionable, he was downgraded to out. Peter Vermes confirmed in the Friday press conference that Shelton had gone to the hospital on Thursday as a result of the collision with LAFC’s GK Tomas Romero. The keeper was given a yellow for the play but you would think the discipline committee would be looking at this for a possible suspension.

Shelton remained down for a long time after the collision (which led to the first of four Sporting KC goals against LAFC). I was personally stunned he returned to the game and in retrospective even more surprised that he played all 90 minutes after such a severe hit.

Starting XI Predictions

Time to rotate in altitude? I have to think SKC will stick to the 2-3 changes method heading into this game.

No Shelton, Forward Depth in Question

With Khiry suddenly being out, it doesn’t likely impact the starting lineup but it does impact the forward depth. If Cam Duke is also out, you have no logical choice at backup winger other than Grayson Barber who has never appeared in an MLS game and in limited USL minutes hasn’t dominated by any means.

It shows how quickly the forward position could spiral out if there is an injury or two. It’s disappointing to not see another forward added before the transfer window closed yesterday.

Gianluca Busio is Officially Gone

This also doesn’t impact the Starting XI because he’s not played since July 4th against LAFC but it does impact the next question. And I just wanted to bum you out by reminding you of his transfer.

Who Plays the #6?

Ilie Sanchez has returned to the starting lineup after a brief hiatus but he is the first player on the season (at the halfway mark no less) to receive a suspension for yellow card accumulation (eat your heart our Roger Espinoza). It likely means a return to Remi Walter at the #6. I think he’s done well but the results have been mixed. Big win at Seattle with him there but a loss to FC Dallas too. That’s not all on him, but he’s definitely not innocent.

What will be interesting is to see if Jose Mauri, SKC’s newest signing, will slot into that spot as either the primary backup or push for a starting job after he arrives. He’s not here quiet yet, but PV sounds like he wants to play him quickly.

So Who Actually Rotates?

I think Jaylin Lindsey probably gets in for Zusi. He’s been fantastic (two assists last game) but he is at the tail end of his career and you have to preserve those legs. Plus Lindsey is the better defender and with those speedy Colorado wingers (Michael Barrios) you have to have someone who can hopefully keep up with them or muscle them around for 90 minutes.

There is also a case that a CB should be rotated but I could see that rotating holding off until the Leagues Cup game Tuesday (unless PV goes the other way and saves everyone to try to win a trophy). I’ll guess the CBs play again in Colorado with them hot on KC’s tail in the standings.

Plus if you add in Espinoza and Russell coming back into the starting lineup that’s three players rotating which feels about right for KC.

Rest of the 20: Pulskamp, Harris, Rad, Puncec, Lindsey, Zusi, Barber, Pierre, Cisneros

I’m hoping Cam Duke is at least healthy enough to get back onto the bench but I’m not holding my breath. Muscle injuries are iffy and it’s not worth pushing it too hard.

Fan XI

Your lineup mirrors mine exactly. I swear guys, I’m not looking at your votes until right before I publish. We did skew the results accidently by leaving Ilie in the poll when he was suspended (whoops!).

Plus it’d be interesting to know how much the unavailability of Shelton would have changed the voting. I think it probably just pushes Pulido, Russell and Salloi that much closer to 100 percent. I’m intrigued to see your votes for Tuesday to see if anyone thinks SKC will take the Leagues Cup serious.

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

Goalkeepers: Melia (98.4%), McIntosh/Pulskamp (1.6%)

Defenders: Isimat-Mirin (95.2%), Fontas (93.7%), Martins (82.5%), Lindsey (60.3%), Zusi (41.3%), Dia (17.5%), Puncec/Rad/Ilie (3.2%)

Midfielders: Kinda (84.1%), Walter (66.7%), Espinoza (65.1%), Ilie (60.3%), Duke (23.8%), Hernandez/Zusi (1.6%)

Wingers: Salloi/Russell (93.7%), Shelton (7.9%), Kinda/Barber/Pulido (1.6%)

Strikers: Pulido (93.7%), Shelton/Harris (3.2%)

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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