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QUESTIONABLE - Graham Zusi (quad)
Graham Zusi is a new addition to the report and Kortne Ford was downgraded to ‘out,’ as expected from Peter’s comments earlier in the week. The Zusi news may finally be father time catching up with the veteran.
Starting XI Predictions
Despite the loss against the Seattle Sounders on the road, I think that was probably the nearly optimal lineup for Sporting KC right now based on who is available. That is until others arrive. However, there are still some things to debate, but first here is that lineup as a point of reference.
Despite what I wrote above, I’d still take Cam Duke out of the starting midfield. The reason is the way the Red Bulls play. They don’t want the ball and they want to be physical in taking it away to create odd man rush opportunities. Because the game will likely be won or lost in the midfield, I’d start Roger Espinoza. Not that he’s who he once was and won’t possibly make mistakes, but he’ll push back more frequently and harder than Duke. When he gets carded, bring Duke on for him in the second half (or Tzionis if the team needs a goal and let Russell play here).
Who is the Right Back?
With my move of Roger Espinoza into the starting midfield spot, that frees up Cam Duke to go to right back. However, I’d prefer to put Kayden Pierre there. It’s his natural spot and I think he’s performed well. He’ll make some mistakes, as any 19-year-old will, but he’s the right back of the future and suddenly Zusi is hurt for the second time this season. The future could be now, especially with this season being a bit of a long-shot to contend for the playoffs.
Uri Rosell seems to have found himself on the bench since his red card cost his team a game. Not to mention he had a penalty kick given up in the prior game. Two challenges in two games that you just can’t commit. Both plays can be directly linked to Sporting KC losing. He just hasn’t been good enough.
Remi Walter is still probably best suited for the #8 role, but he’s the best option at the #6. I promise to stop writing this section every week in the same way. If Walter starts again, I’ll be more confident it’ll keep happening.
Without Ford at CB
Sporting missed his aerial presence against the Sounders and their two headed goals they let in. I still think Kortne Ford is a sure-fire starter if he’s healthy. But he’s not right now and Robert Voloder got benched after that goal he allowed against the New England Revolution (that he wasn’t alone in making mistakes on). I suspect it’s still Andreu Fontas and Nicolas Isimat-Mirin, who played poor in Seattle, but are probably the best options.
The Other Spots
- Ndenbe all day at LB
- Melia is still the starting keeper
- I don’t foresee any forward lines changes until someone new arrives. I’m down for more Russell at CF and Khiry on the wing, but I don’t suspect that’s how it’ll go.
Rest of the 20: Pulskamp, Tzionis, Sweat, Duke, Voloder, K. Rad, Rosell, Davis, [1 empty]
Those new signings can’t come soon enough as this is still a relatively thin bench, but Tzionis and Duke available off of the bench at least provide the ability to add a spark.
Your vote doesn’t quite match mine. You all are more optimistic than I am about Kortne Ford’s return from his head injury. Kayden Pierre is climbing the charts with those starting RB votes (which I can get behind), and that’s without you all knowing of the Zusi injury. Also interesting to see (and also understandable) that Shelton can’t even get half the vote at CF. There is a desire for change, any change, at striker.
Here is the tally of your fan vote. Starters in italics and anyone over five percent is referenced here.
Goalkeepers: Melia (88.6%), Pulskamp (11.4%)
Defenders: Ndenbe (86.4%), Ford (79.5%), Zusi (70.5%), Isimat-Mirin (45.5%), Fontas (40.9%), Voloder (34.1%), Pierre (31.8%), Sweat (6.8%)
Midfielders: Hernandez (100%), Walter (93.2%), Duke (54.5%), Espinoza (27.3%), Tzionis/Davis (9.1%)
Wingers: Salloi (88.6%), Russell (68.2%), Tzionis (34.1%), Shelton (6.8%)
Strikers: Shelton (40.9%), Russell (25.0%), Vujnovic (15.9%), Salloi (11.4%), Tzionis (6.8%)
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