Sporting Kansas City are in desperation mode. They probably need to win nine of their last 12 league games to make the playoffs. And even then it may not be enough. First place LAFC are coming to town this weekend (followed by second place Austin FC next weekend) and neither game feels all that important with the US Open Cup midweek leaving Sporting KC a win away from playing for a trophy.
- How to Watch
- Injury Updates for LAFC
- and Predictions
QUESTIONABLE - Graham Zusi (quad), Tim Melia (shoulder)
#SportingKC Injury/Availability Report:— Chad Smith (@PlayFor90) July 22, 2022
OUT - Espinoza (red card), Cisneros (hamstring), Ford (suspension), Pulido (knee), Kinda (knee)
QUESTIONABLE - Melia (shoulder), Zusi (quad)
Espinoza is the only addition. #LAFC #SKCvLAFC
Espinoza is the only addition to the report but Erik Thommy and William Agada are now off of it having completed their immigration process and started practice this past week with the team.
Starting XI Predictions
To rotate or not to rotate? That is the question.
Do We See the New International Signings?
Both guys are in training with the team and Sporting KC put out social media posts for them both if you want a sneak peek (below). The question is, will they play? William Agada arrived and had one training session with the team before the loss to Real Salt Lake. He did end up sitting the bench, but he didn’t get onto the pitch.
Thommy arrived later. My gut tells me both guys will be on the bench for this one. It seems very unlikely they will start but I could absolutely see them getting some cameos. Especially because there is a game on Wednesday against the Sacramento Republic in the US Open Cup that is of the utmost importance. Heck, if they were super impressive this week, nothing like having your first game (start?) against Gareth Bale and Carlos Vela.
Willy's in the house and on the field.— Sporting Kansas City (@SportingKC) July 19, 2022
✅ First training pic.twitter.com/BJ2UOyn3wg
Also, Daniel Sperry of the KC Star has a nice story to introduce you to both new signings.
US Open Cup Wednesday
With a much more important game on Wednesday (the MLS season is over for SKC, hadn’t you heard?), Peter Vermes will tell us a lot based on who he plays Saturday. You want your best team fresh and rested for the trip to Northern California. The question is, what is the best team? When a team only has five wins through 22 games, I’m not sure anyone knows. Who starts this game (besides Roger who is suspended), may give insight into who PV wants to protect and be fresh for Wednesday.
Personally, I’d like to see Russell and Salloi start the game from the bench. They can sub on if the game is close, but no need to run them into the ground in what looks like it will be a brutally hot day. I’m less worried about guys like Felipe Hernandez and Remi Walter who seem to never get tired. If we see Ben Sweat out there because PV wants to save Ndenbe’s legs for Wednesday, so be it.
Who Plays CB?
I think Robert Voloder has to start, more because of the above rotation than anything else. I don’t think he’s one of the two best available center backs right now, but I don’t care. I want to see a lot more of him to build towards 2023.
Andreu Fontas should be fresh after being suspended last weekend. Let Nicolas Isimat-Mirin get a rest. Maybe if PV is feeling really spice he gives Kaveh Rad his first start of the season with Voloder. It would probably be a nightmare though with Sweat turning the ball over and Uri Rosell unable to shield the back line.
I don’t know if you all have seen, LAFC are pretty good at soccer.
The Other Spots
- I’d play Cam Duke at RW if Russell does in fact get a rest. Or Shelton if Agada has done enough to earn a start in such a short time.
- That leaves Marinos Tzionis to fill out the front line so Daniel gets a rest.
- Kayden Pierre kind of has to play RB (or Duke I guess) since Zusi may still not be available. He’s young, he’ll be fine. The only concern is a confidence shattering performance if the aforementioned Bale, Vela or LAFC leading scorer Cristian Arango eat him for dinner.
Rest of the 20: McIntosh, Russell, Ndenbe, Salloi, K. Rad, Thommy, Davis, Agada, Isimat-Mirin
With the new signings, even with Espinoza suspended, there are finally enough players healthy to fill out a full gameday 20. That’s kind of wild. MLS rosters absolutely need to expand because of things like this, and then this causing guys to not be able to be loaned down to SKC II and get valuable minutes.
Speaking of the II’s, they play Friday night back at Swope Soccer Village (after playing their home games at Rock Chalk Park in Lawrence, KS all year). SKC season ticket members get in free (contact your ticket rep) or it’s just $10 otherwise. I can’t wait to have easier access to them (Lawrence is a 55 minute drive for me).
See you there? Come say hi! I’ll probably linger after the game, I have nowhere to be.
The insertion of the new arrivals into the poll didn’t shake things up too much, but unsurprisingly Agada already passed Shelton in the striker votes. People are over him it would seem. At least we stumbled into the fact that Shelton actually makes $300,000 less than he made in 2021.
On the whole, you all probably went with a more ‘first choice’ 11 than I did outside of the Melia injury concern. Defend your vote in the comments!
Here is the tally of your fan vote. Starters in italics and anyone over five percent is referenced here.
Goalkeepers: Pulskamp (66.7%), Melia (33.3%)
Defenders: Ndenbe (91.1%), Isimat-Mirin (86.7%), Pierre (80.0%), Fontas (77.8%), Voloder (24.4%), Zusi (17.8%), Rad (11.1%), Sweat (8.9%)
Midfielders: Walter (93.3%), Hernandez (88.9%), Duke (62.2%), Rosell (22.2%), Thommy (17.8%), Espinoza (6.7% — whoops, forgot to remove him!)
Wingers: Russell (97.8%), Tzionis (53.3%), Salloi (44.4%), Duke (6.7%)
Strikers: Salloi (53.3%), Agada (28.9%), Shelton (11.1%), Tizonis (6.7%)
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