Sporting Kansas City look to put up back-to-back wins as they hit the road against the San Jose Earthquakes. They are coming off a 2-1 win at home over the Colorado Rapids, despite their dwindling number of available players. The roster size doesn’t get better, but Sporting KC will press on anyways.
OUT - Alan Pulido (knee surgery), Gadi Kinda (SEI - knee surgery), Ozzie Cisneros (hamstring), Daniel Salloi (red card), Andreu Fontas (red card)
QUESTIONABLE - Graham Zusi (leg strain), Johnny Russell (knee), Khiry Shelton (hamstring), Nikola Vujnovic (calf), Nicolas Isimat-Mirin (concussion, facial fracture)
#SportingKC Availability Report— Chad Smith (@PlayFor90) May 21, 2022
OUT - Fontas/Salloi (red cards), Cisneros (hamstring), Kinda/Pulido (surgery)
QUESTIONABLE - Vujnovic (calf), Zusi (thigh), Isimat-Mirin (facial fracture/concussion), Russell (knee), Shelton (hamstring)#SJvSKC
Peter Vermes did say that Nicolas Isimat-Mirin, who was technically updated to questionable, is likely still not available. The other change is Nikola Vujnovic is added as just questionable, despite going down hard early in the first half against Colorado.
Starting XI Predictions
Two new suspensions keep things thin.
Forward is Still Very Thin
I’m not sure how Russell got through the game Wednesday. He was nursing his leg the whole game, laying back on defense instead of joining the attack, and just generally struggling to move. Then late in the game he was bursting all over the field. Asking him to play a third time in a week (with the USOC looming mid-week), is tough.
The team is also without Daniel Salloi because of suspension. I’d suspect that opens the door for Marinos Tzionis to start at LW. At CF, you have two questionable players, so it could be either of them or a player doing the false nine. I would say I don’t expect a formation change (after Peter was down on himself for the poor start against Dallas in the Open Cup) but there are just not a lot of healthy bodies. I’d be fine with Cam Duke being a false 9 or the RW just to get through this game which would open the door for a Kayden Pierre start at right back (or more likely, another Ben Sweat appearance).
Red Card Returnees
Roger Espinoza and Robert Voloder are back and likely will need to step in somewhere. Remi Walter hasn’t had a break at all during this congested run, so it might be a chance to rest him, and I think that makes sense with a US Open Cup game against Houston on Wednesday.
As for Voloder, he gets a chance to prove he should be a starter after Andreu Fontas picked up a silly red card for grabbing Diego Rubio’s throat at the end of the Rapids game.
SKC II Played Friday...
But that will likely have no impact. John Pulskamp started in their 3-1 win over San Jose Earthquakes II, but no one else from the first team was with the second team. In fact, Julian Vazquez was loaned back to the first team again (this time on a hardship loan), so if anything, players are coming the other way.
No one else likely will change because no on is really available outside of some Academy guys (Jake Davis, Kaveh Rad, the aforementioned Pierre) that PV hasn’t shown a ton of trust in yet.
Rest of the 20: McIntosh, Vazquez, K. Rad, Walter, Pierre, Davis, Russell, [2 empty]
Looking at this lineup, it just seems very unlikely this is the setup. You have two defensively suspect wingers. But at this point, who knows.
There is some big splits at RB. Don’t rule out a Graham Zusi return either. After that, you all are more convinced Walter just keeps playing and in the attack, it’s all over the place again, but Russell also gets the nod.
Goalkeepers: Melia (89.8%), Pulskamp (10.2%)
Defenders: Ford (94.9%), Ndenbe (93.2%), Voloder (89.8%), Pierre (39.0%), Sweat (33.9%), Duke (22.0%), Zusi (11.9%)
Midfielders: Walter (94.9%), Hernandez (71.2%), Rosell (62.7%), Espinoza (54.2%), Duke (15.3%), Tzionis (6.8%)
Wingers: Russell (88.1%), Tzionis (78.0%), Duke (22.0%), Shelton/Vazquez (5.1%)
Strikers: Shelton (49.2%), Vujnovic (33.9%), Tzionis (16.9%)
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