Sporting Kansas City are back in action on short rest against the Portland Timbers this weekend. With all the rotation on Tuesday for the Open Cup and a new injury, it’s time to once again see how things could possibly lineup and see the results of your fan vote for who to start.
QUESTIONABLE - Graham Zusi (hamstring strain)
Graham Zusi gets an upgrade to questionable and Ozzie is out, as expected after leaving early on Tuesday.
Starting XI Predictions
Does Tzionis Finally Earn a Start?
Sadly, it’s probably a no. He did get his first goal (the latest in regulation in Sporting KC history) against Dallas on Tuesday and was very exciting to watch, but as I pointed out in my post-game observations, it’s something he’s not doing. Running when he doesn’t have the ball (see Vermes’ full quote here).
So I don’t see Daniel Salloi, Johnny Russell or Khiry Shelton going to the bench (especially because they didn’t start Tuesday). However, there is one possibility still. That Russell moves to the 8/10, opening up a wing spot. I imagine it’ll be more of a situational move if the team needs a goal or that Marinos Tzionis would be a sub, especially after playing 120 minutes.
About the CF Spot... Still
Khiry Shelton will almost certainly start again. He forced an own goal (off a strong Tzionis run and good through ball) and picked Edwin Cerrillo’s pocket and scored into an open net. I imagine that earned him 5-10 more starts in a row. I joke (sort of). He’ll probably start simply because they rotated last game. However, can I make the case to not start Khiry? He had his best game of the year as a sub. He can run at those tired players and move them around with his strength when there is just a little less left in their legs.
But we know Khiry will still start.
Who Plays the 6?
Uri Rosell didn’t start on Tuesday (or make the gameday lineup), so it’ll almost surely be him. Then again, it’s on turf, which has caused him problems this year. Another thought, there was a good discussion in the comments about finding a spot for Andreu Fontas on the field. If he’s got the cover of an athletic backline of Logan Ndenbe, Robert Voloder, Kortne Ford and Cam Duke, then it could work. He’s definitely slower, but he has much better at passing than Rosell and he’s very Ilie-like for those that miss Ilie Sanchez.
Another option is Felipe Hernandez, who acquainted himself well there on Tuesday when he took the spot over after the formation change. He just did 120 minutes though, so probably Rosell. Just throwing out ideas.
About Cam Duke and RB
I think he’s played very well in that spot, but he did have to sub into the game early and play extensive minutes. It’s possible, after a good showing once he moved to right back, that Kayden Pierre could get his first MLS start. That said, I think Cam Duke is young enough to bounce back but if he needs to sub off, I think you can be more confident that Pierre is making progress. No reason to risk a questionable Graham Zusi here.
For everything else, I’d expect the regulars. Roger Espinoza, Tim Melia, etc.
Rest of the 20: Pulskamp, Fontas, Hernandez, K. Rad, Tzionis, Vujnovic, Sweat, Pierre, Davis
I was tempted to run a short bench but SKC II are playing Timber 2 on Sunday, so no reason not to fill the bench up, but guys who don’t get minutes could suddenly slide over to the second team and make appearances (or starts) on Sunday.
Pulskamp took a dip in the voting after some mistakes on Tuesday, one leading directly to a goal. Voloder has taken over as the top defender snagging votes and Shelton is inching ahead at CF.
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 (94.1%), Pulskamp (5.9%)
Defenders: Voloder (100%), Ndenbe/Ford (91.2%), Duke (88.2%), Fontas/Pierre (8.8%), Zusi (5.9%)
Midfielders: Walter (97.1%), Rosell (82.4%), Espinoza (73.5%), Hernandez (23.5%), Tzionis (17.6%), Duke (5.9%)
Wingers: Russell (94.1%), Russell (88.2%), Tzionis (14.7%)
Strikers: Shelton (55.9%), Vujnovic (29.4%), Salloi (14.7%), Russell (5.9%)
The Blue Testament has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, though The Blue Testament and SB Nation may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links. For more information, see our guiding principles. If you want to support the site, you can sign up for ESPN+ and we receive a small commission.