Sporting Kansas City will be looking to get the sour taste out of their mouth from a rough week one as they return home in front of their fans to take on the Houston Dynamo. Let’s get to the updates and figure out who takes the field tomorrow.
OUT - Nikola Vujnovic (visa issues), Alan Pulido (knee surgery), Gadi Kinda (knee surgery), Uri Rosell (hamstring)
QUESTIONABLE - None
#SportingKC Injury Report:— Chad Smith (@PlayFor90) March 4, 2022
OUT - Alan Pulido (knee surgery), Gadi Kinda (knee surgery), Nikola Vujnovic (visa issues), Uri Rosell (hamstring)
QUESTIONABLE - None#SKCvHOU
Starting XI Predictions
No need to go through the whole roster this week as there probably won’t be a ton of change. I thought, while the results were bad, it was mostly mistakes that led to the Atlanta goals. Clean those up and no need to change things drastically.
Who Replaces Uri/Mauri?
Well, this question was so prolific, we dedicated a whole story to it. It goes into the short-term and long-term plans, including a possible formation change. But the short version is, Remi Walter will start here this week.
If Walter Slides Back, Who Steps Up?
Since Remi Walter was a starter already, someone would have to replace him. I’ve seen request to make two replacements further up in the midfield and to see Roger Espinoza go into that substitute role. However, I think Roger stays on and Felipe Hernandez is the next man up to start. This is a huge chance for Felipe to prove he should be on the field all the time so that when Gadi Kinda returns, it’s him and not Roger staying here.
Cam Duke, while I think has a real case that he should start with Felipe, is probably the first midfielder off the bench. It’s also a possibility that Marinos Tzionis comes in again, but I think that was mostly because Sporting were down. Vermes said specifically that’s not Tzionis’ position.
No Other Changes... Yet
There are plenty of people calling for changes at center forward and center back. Khiry Shelton had a forgettable season opener. My favorite description was like he was playing with cement blocks for feet. His touch was very poor, but maybe it was that awful Atlanta turf (probably not, but Khiry starts anyways).
Also Andreu Fontas was hung out to dry by some midfield turnovers last week and there were already calls to bench the 2021 SKC Defender of the Year. That feels premature but Roberto Voloder is a like-for-like replacement that will continue to get more comfortable in the system and Kortne Ford seems eager to get onto the field as well. Assuming things go better Saturday, those changes will have to wait.
Rest of the 20: Pulskamp, Duke, Tzionis, Ford, Sweat, Voloder, Pierre, Cisneros, Davis
That’s a bench that’s already lacking many attacking subs. Duke and Tzionis could get into the game. Ozzie has yet to play in MLS. Then it’s all defensive beyond that. Even the arrival of Nikola Vujnovic (which still hasn’t happened), won’t quite fix things.
You all have Duke over Espinoza, otherwise our lineups are the same. Duke was mostly with the twos during open workouts on Wednesday, and I’m not saying I don’t prefer him too, but it’ll be Roger. I’m not sure how defensively sound a midfield of Duke/Hernandez/Walter would be. But Roger made some mistakes last week too, so PV has to consider rotating him in my opinion.
The rest of the voting is interesting to see who jumped up (and fell down) in percentages after last week’s vote. Shelton sharply declined, but wishing Vujnovic was in the country isn’t working so far. I’ll be interested to see if Pulskamp picks up more votes if Melia continues to struggle. He was left in bad spots last week, but charging off his line for all three goals may actually have made some of the shots easier.
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 (98.6%)
Defenders: Isimat-Mirin (95.8%), Ndenbe (94.4%), Fontas (93.1%), Zusi (90.3%), Ford (8.3%), Pierre (5.6%)
Midfielders: Walter (94.4%), Hernandez (87.5%), Duke (56.9%),
Mauri (19.4%), Espinoza (18.1%), Kinda (8.3%), Tzionis/Rosell (6.9%)
Wingers: Russell (100%), Salloi (91.7%), Tzionis (8.3%)
Strikers: Shelton (69.4%), Vujnovic (20.8%), Salloi (8.3%)
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