Sporting Kansas City are looking to find a way to stop the bleeding, but the injury report isn’t going to help. They’ll need something good to finally happen and against an Real Salt Lake team they’ve struggled with recently. Maybe a week more of practicing whatever that formation was last weekend will make it click?
OUT - Alan Pulido (knee surgery), Gadi Kinda (knee surgery), Logan Ndenbe (Int. Duty - Belgium U21s), Marinos Tzionis (Int. Duty - Cyprus)
QUESTIONABLE - Khiry Shelton (calf), Uri Rosell (hamstring), Johnny Russell (hamstring), Daniel Salloi (calf)
Vermes on Shelton, Russell, Salloi, Rosell: "They are all questionable."— Chad Smith (@PlayFor90) March 25, 2022
Vermes gave a long nuanced answer I couldn't keep up with, but my read is they won't start and they may not even make the bench. #SportingKC
Basically no changes on the injury report. The only thing different is two more players are unavailable because of international duty; Tzionis and Ndenbe. One interesting thing that did come up in the press conference today was Johnny Russell disclosing more about his injury. Apparently he was dealing with a hamstring issue in one leg entering the Colorado Rapids game, but he pushed through because they were missing so many players, and then he tweaked his other hamstring.
Russell: (paraphrase) Had a hamstring injury going into Colorado and the other one acted up.— Chad Smith (@PlayFor90) March 25, 2022
"Trained the last couple of days."
He said he's going to see how it reacts. #SportingKC
Starting XI Predictions
Well, less players available, that’s fun...
Is Everyone Still Out?
All these questionable players, Rosell, Salloi, Russell and Shelton, missed the last game (even the bench) despite just being questionable. The good news is Salloi, Russell and Shelton all practiced this week and Peter Vermes confirmed they were all at varying stages of their recovery. It’s interesting to me they were even questionable if they hadn’t returned to practice.
My gut tells me no one plays, but even just Johnny Russell being made available to the media feels like a step in the right direction. But if there is any doubt, I wouldn’t risk them. The season is long, it’s just one game (though they are starting to pile up).
Last week, a different formation was floated out and even after the lineup was released, people were skeptical it wasn’t somehow a 4-3-3. Having watched the game twice, it seems very clear to me it wasn’t. There were clearly three centers backs (Fontas, Isimat-Mirin and Ford) and two wing backs, Zusi and Sweat.
Now, the midfielders at times sat in a line of three (Espinoza, Hernandez and Walter) with Cam Duke very clearly ahead of them. Walter would play the deepest of the three with Espinoza and Hernandez making moves forward, but whatever you call it is pure semantics. There was one true forward on the field, Nikola Vujnovic, and he’s the only one on the roster healthy (Ozzie Cisneros is probably a forward at this point, but I still see him as a midfielder).
I think we may see this lineup again because the team has one less forward (Tzionis) due to international duty. It won’t make for beautiful soccer, but avoiding long-term injuries is more important than this one game.
One last thing to consider is a change at goalkeeper. I’m not sure I’ve ever written this. However, Tim Melia let in a howler last week that arguably caused the whole game plan to fall apart. Then he had another that he was put in a bad spot on but ultimately looked like he should have saved (the third goal).
This change won’t happen... yet. But it’s something to keep an eye on if Melia starts to suddenly show his age (he is the team’s oldest player, but GK’s age differently). John Pulskamp is the next man up and I bet he’s chomping at the bit.
If Sporting are without all the players who are questionable, they are eligible to call players up from SKC II on a hardship loan. If they have less than 16 field players, which it’s unclear if they actually have because Jose Mauri may still technically be on the roster as they keep listing him as ‘out’ on the Availability Report.
As for who they’d call up, it’s anyone’s guess. Spencer Glass has trained with the first team a bunch, both in preseason and some video packages they’ve released. But he seems to be primarily a defender (despite getting some LW minutes in preseason). We just don’t know the rest of SKC II (they play their first game Sunday).
If Mataeo Bunbury was actually under contract, I’d say bring him up, but he may technically still just be in the academy. It’s unclear how that would work, but I suspect you’d need to bring up a pro player, not an amateur. And he’s very young, so it might not be ideal to put him out there even if you could.
Looking at this formation really shows the lack of width. Either the fullbacks need to get forward more or the midfielders have to get wider at times because last week you could see why it didn’t work going forward with too much crowding in the middle of the park.
Rest of the 20: Pulskamp, Voloder, Cisneros, Davis, Pierre, K. Rad, McIntosh, Russell, [empty]
I put two GKs on the bench... there isn’t much to work with here. Don’t be surprised if Russell is a darkhorse to get on the field. Maybe he comes on late if they need him, depending how those hamstrings reacted to this weeks practice.
Voting is way down this week. Probably because you all are all depressed. I get it.
Melia got his lowest percentage of votes I can ever remember while he was healthy. Overall, the voting is all over the place showing people want a change (or desperately want a return from injury). I’m probably an idiot to put out the same lineup from last week when it ultimately didn’t work. Let’s just hope people are healthy, they get back to the 4-3-3 and start looking good again.
Also, Duke didn’t rate high enough in any category to be a starter, but if you combine his votes he’s actually over 80 percent, so it’s all a hot mess.
Go share your lineup in the comments if you see this, because from the voting I couldn’t tell so I left it in a 4-3-3. I’m interested in your creative solutions.
Here are the tallies of the votes. We’ll stick to just who got at least 5% of the vote in the results. Starters in italics.
Goalkeepers: Melia (78.9%), Pulskamp (15.8%), McIntosh (5.3%)
Defenders: Isimat-Mirin (92.1%), Sweat (86.8%), Zusi (84.2%), Fontas (81.6%), Ford (28.9%), Voloder (15.8%), Pierre (10.5%), Duke (5.3%)
Midfielders: Walter (97.4%), Hernandez (86.8%), Espinoza (60.5%), Duke (44.7%), Davis (7.9%), Rosell (5.3%)
Wingers: Salloi (57.9%), Russell (50.0%), Duke (31.6%), Cisneros/Shelton (15.8%), Vujnovic (10.5%)
Strikers: Vujnovic (76.3%), Shelton (18.4%), Cisneros (5.3%)
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