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Sporting KC Injury Update and Starting XI Predictions Versus Chicago Fire

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The availability report is looking better and better, but will the internationals play?

MLS: Sporting Kansas City at Chicago Fire Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports

Sporting Kansas City are heading back home to face the Chicago Fire on the 20th anniversary of the September 11th tragedy. The Fire enter the game hot (see what I did there?) and will be looking to continue their best run of the year while Kansas City attempts to reverse their worst run.

Injury/Availability Updates

OUT - Felipe Hernandez (personal reasons), Jaylin Lindsey (hamstring), Roger Espinoza (red card)

QUESTIONABLE - None

The availability report continues to move in the right direction. Nicolas Isimat-Mirin is fully off the report and Vermes confirmed he’s been working towards full fitness in the press conference. Daniel Salloi and Gadi Kinda represented their countries overseas earlier in the week, but the team confirmed they are available and not subject to any quarantine before this weekends game. The only addition is the loss of Roger Espinoza from his (deserved) red card, which PV confirmed he wouldn’t challenge because he was told he was unlikely to win.

Jaylin Lindsey also confirmed that he’s a couple weeks away, so hopefully we’ll see him at least earn a sub appearance a few weeks down the road.

Starting XI Predictions

Despite the team confirming Salloi and Kinda are back and available (assuming no positive COVID test, as always), it doesn’t seem clear that they’d play.

Int. Call-Up Part 1: Is Gadi Really Available?

Gadi Kinda represented Israel during the international break, but he spent most of that time on the bench. He didn’t play against Austria or the Faroe Islands and only got on in the 80th minute against Denmark. So from a soccer perspective, he should be fresh, but he did just appear in a match in Europe on the 7th (Tuesday) and fly home. So there is some doubt. If he can’t play, Cam Duke seems like the most likely replacement.

Int. Call-Up Part 2: Is Daniel Really Available?

Daniel Salloi on the other hand did see more of the field and he last played for Hungary on Wednesday. He came on in the 66th minute against England (Sept. 2nd), the 67th minute against Albania (Sept 5th) and played the whole second half against Andorra (Sept. 8th). The minutes aren’t too extensive, despite the congested schedule, but his travel timeline is much tighter than Kinda’s. I’d be much less surprised to see him come off the bench. That would probably mean a Khiry Shelton start. That said, Daniel is young and I bet he fights to play from the start.

Who Replaces Roger Espinoza?

With Roger suspended, there is a hole in the midfield and the way I see it the team has a few options. If Gadi Kinda can play, then I’d personally put Cam Duke next to him and Remi Walter in the 6. However, I suspect it’d be more likely that Vermes plays Walter ahead of Duke and Jose Mauri at the 6. I think Mauri needs more time with his teammates to get comfortable unless he just had an amazing week of practice after struggling at times in his rushed debut against LAFC last week. (And to defend the team, they didn’t have a ton of options with Walter suspended and multiple other midfielders missing.)

Another option would be moving Ilie Sanchez back to the midfield. That gives the option of playing any combination of Kinda, Walter, Mauri and Duke ahead of Ilie. Though it seems when Ilie isn’t the starting CB, he’s not the starting d-mid either. That could be because Gianluca Busio was just too good to unseat the last time Isi was healthy enough to start at CB.

A final option would be to have Jose Mauri further up the field. Vermes reiterated he sees him as a 6 or an 8 in his system. The 6 may be the toughest spot to play so maybe he eases him into some minutes further up the pitch where the defensive responsibilities are still big, but mistakes tend to be less dire.

I’ll say I’m less certain about this lineup than any in recent memory.

Rest of the 20: Pulskamp, Harris, Shelton, Davis, Dia, Barber, Mauri, Rad, Ilie

If this is the bench, it surely looks a lot more healthy and impactful than in recent memory. Even if Daniel, Gadi and Isi end up on the bench, that just immediately improves the squad depth so dramatically and gives a heck of a punch if the teams makes subs. I can’t imagine we go another game with one or few subs. That streak must be broken.

Also, I ran a poll last week setting the over/under on subs at 1.5. The under both won the vote (60%) and won because Vermes once again made only one sub (despite being down a man and down between two and four goals for most of the second half). Kind of unbelievable, even for what we expect from Peter.

Fan XI

The voting is a little split. Ilie got enough votes to start in defense but a lot of you had him nearly high enough to start in the midfield too, so it’s definitely up for debate. You are all with me that the international players will slot right back into the lineup and our only disagreement is if Isi is ready to start again at CB.

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 (97.0%), Zusi (91.0%), Martins (86.6%), Ilie (47.8%), Isimat-Mirin (41.8%), Dia (13.4%), Smith (9.0%), Puncec/Rad (6.0%)

Midfielders: Walter (85.1%), Duke/Kinda (64.2%), Ilie (46.3%), Mauri (31.3%)

Wingers: Russell (95.5%), Salloi (59.7%), Shelton (38.8%)

Strikers: Pulido (89.6%)

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