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Sporting KC Injury Update and Starting XI Predictions Versus Colorado

A few more names added to the injury report, of course.

MLS: US Open Cup-FC Dallas at Sporting Kansas City Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Sporting Kansas City will be looking to bounce back after an unspeakable loss over the weekend to the Portland Timbers. However, the Colorado Rapids may be getting even luckier as more names are popping up on the injury report.

Injury/Availability Updates

OUT - Alan Pulido (knee surgery), Gadi Kinda (SEI - knee surgery), Nicolas Isimat-Mirin (concussion, facial fracture), Ozzie Cisneros (hamstring), Roger Espinoza (yellow card accumulation), Robert Voloder (red card)

QUESTIONABLE - Graham Zusi (hamstring strain), Johnny Russell (knee), Khiry Shelton (hamstring)

Russell and Shelton are new additions to the injury report. Of course. Very 2022 for Kansas City. What’s concerning is we knew Russell had a nagging hamstring injury, but this is listed as a knee, which presumably is new.

Starting XI Predictions

So much to figure out.

Russell, Shelton or Both are Probably Out

It’s not just Johnny Russell limping around all over the field against Portland (turf!!) but Sporting KC went ahead and made a signing today. They added 21-year-old winger Julian Vazquez from SKC II on short-term loan. He’s played well for Sporting KC II, playing nearly ever available minute this season. Only captain Collin Fernandez and Homegrown Jahon Rad (twin brother of Kaveh) have played more than Vazquez. He is a former member of the Real Salt Lake Academy.

In his eight appearances (all starts) he’s scored twice and assisted three times. I don’t expect that he’ll be asked to start, but he’s immediately the first winger off the bench.

Instead, I think it’ll be a front three of Daniel Salloi, Nikolas Vujnovic and Marinos Tzionis, because they are the only other healthy forwards on the roster. The team has rolled out formation changes when the depth is in question and we could see a 4-4-2 diamond with Tzionis as the tip, but I think he’s playing his best soccer out wide. Plus PV blamed himself for that poor start in the US Open Cup which included the team being out of formation until they got into the 4-3-3 and briefly looked glorious.

Who Replaces Roger?

I think the obvious answer is Felipe Hernandez. He had two assists against Portland, though he may not have held up his end on his defensive responsibilities. I expect that when the team broke down the film, that was a big talking point (along with Cam Duke and Tzionis’ defense). That would likely leave a midfield of Remi Walter and Uri Rosell alongside him. The only other options are really Cam Duke (who is probably need at RB) and Jake Davis, who has played sparingly as a Homegrown signing.

What About Replacing Voloder?

This one is probably even easier. Andreu Fontas was the starter at this LCB spot until he was benched late in the LAFC game. He played well in the USOC against FC Dallas last week and may have a chance to steal back this starting spot after the Robert Voloder red card. If nothing, there was likely to be at least a few rotated positions, so this just forces one.

Is Cam Duke Staying at RB?

I think the answer is probably yes, but he had some tough moments against Portland and had some heavy responsibility for leaving open acres of space. It wasn’t solely his fault, but Vermes spoke mostly positively of him in the press conference today and said that he needs to play more physically. That seems to coincide with what many of the commenters on The Blue Testament saw in him going down too easy, not getting the calls and then not getting back into the play.

I honestly wouldn’t mind seeing Kayden Pierre here. Duke played most of the Dallas game which ran 120 minutes and all of the Portland game. Maybe he needs a rest and Pierre played well in the USOC game. I think he’s more likely to be the future at RB than Duke, and this frees up Duke to be an attacking sub in the midfield if needed. But I doubt it will happen.

I don’t expect anymore rotation because as the Philadelphia Union’s Jim Curtain said, if you rotate more than four guys, the numbers say you’ll lose. That puts KC at four, all forced by cards or injuries.

Rest of the 20: Pulskamp, Vazquez, K. Rad, Sweat, Pierre, Davis, [3 empty]

Ma,n that’s a thin bench between injuries and suspensions. Maybe Russell or Shelton won’t be a full scratch, but I’d put money on at least one of them being missing.

Fan XI

A week after Pulskamp’s votes plummeted with a #WPIOOTBGW moment (click that hashtag for some fun videos), he climbs as Melia let’s in seven. Some of which maybe he could have done slightly better with.

The rest of the voting is all kinds of skewed because of injuries and suspensions. I think a chunk of votes came in before the suspended players were removed.

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 (79.7%), Pulskamp (18.6%)

Defenders: Ford (93.2%), Ndenbe (91.5%), Duke (64.4%), Fontas (64.4%), Pierre (28.8%), Zusi (8.5%), Sweat (6.8%)

Midfielders: Walter (96.6%), Hernandez (69.3%), Rosell (67.6%), Tzionis (28.8%), Duke (11.9%), Davis (5.1%)

Wingers: Russell (88.1%), Salloi (74.6%), Tzionis (32.2%)

Strikers: Vujnovic (40.7%), Shelton (39.0%), Salloi (16.9%), Russell/Tzionis (5.1%)

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