Sporting Kansas City must play a third game in eight days after a week (and season) of disappointment. Let’s just get to it.
- How to Watch
- Injury Updates for Austin
- and Predictions
QUESTIONABLE - Khiry Shelton (calf)
Official #SportingKC Injury/Availability Report:— Chad Smith (@PlayFor90) July 29, 2022
OUT - Melia (hamstring), Ford (suspension), Cisneros (hamstring), Pulido (knee), Kinda (knee)
QUESTIONABLE - Shelton (calf)
It did look like Shelton limped off during that Open Cup game. #SKCvAUS
Melia remains out, which is typical of a muscle injury. Khiry Shelton is the only new addition to the report. Him limping off the field was apparently an injury and not just fatigue. It looked like it live, so compliments to my eye doctor.
I’m somewhat surprised that Ben Sweat who had to be physically carried off the field isn’t on the report. I don’t imagine we see him, but that’s kind of wild watching how exhausted he was. Also, glad not to see Erik Thommy on the report as he was having a hard time with his second game of the week. No need to push him this weekend.
Starting XI Predictions
Let’s just go line by line and look at who is available and try not to run anyone too far into the ground.
Available: Johnny Russell, Daniel Salloi, Marinos Tzionis, Willy Agada
I’ll just assume Shelton’s out, but unless PV plays someone out of position (not out of the questions between Cam Duke or Remi Walter based on past experience), they don’t even have three guys who didn’t play 120 minutes on Wednesday. Russell should rest and play the other three. Johnny can come off the bench, or if PV wants to rest Salloi too, Duke can play RW. I like that idea to start.
Available: Roger Espinoza, Cam Duke, Felipe Hernandez, Remi Walter, Jake Davis, Uri Rosell, Erik Thommy
Espinoza shouldn’t play. He was gassed midweek and he’s older and will take longer to recover. I’d argue Remi should get a rest too, but mostly that’s not happened in 2022. Walter has the most minutes of anyone on the team ahead of Russell and then Melia.
They could conceivable do a midfield of Hernandez (guaranteed to start IMO), Duke and Rosell. It may not be pretty though. I wouldn’t count Walter out of playing again but with Rosell being behind him. I’d love to see Jake Davis get at least 30 minutes. See what he has with better players around him (though this may not be a good game for that if there truly is a bunch of rotation).
Available: Logan Ndenbe, Ben Sweat, Nicolas Isimat-Mirin, Andreu Fontas, Robi Volder, Graham Zusi, Kayden Pierre, Kaveh Rad
No reason to push Zusi or Sweat with capable players at their positions (especially with Zusi coming back off an injury just last weekend and doing 120 minute midweek). Ndenbe and Pierre start.
Center back is tougher. There are four players, but we haven’t seen Kaveh Rad with a first team appearance all year. Maybe it starts this weekend, but that’s an awfully young backline with him and Voloder next to youthful fullbacks. Plus Austin are so dangerous and Pulskamp seems likely to start in net. I imagine we’ll get Voloder with either Fontas or Isi, with my money on Isi to see how that pairing looks going forward with Fontas about to be out of contract. If Isi continues to have lapses a veteran shouldn’t have sprinkled between his otherwise solid play, they can decline his option too and move on.
Update: Peter actually gave an answer about rotation in the press conference yesterday but I didn’t attend because of work, so here is the answer in full.
In yesterday's press conference, Peter Vermes was asked about player availability for #SKCvAUS (h/t @todpalmer) after playing so much earlier in the week.— Chad Smith (@PlayFor90) July 30, 2022
It's a nuanced response that I've included the full video of. I'm intrigued to see who starts. #SportingKC pic.twitter.com/qGUjCntxOp
Rest of the 20: McIntosh, Russell, Sweat, Espinoza, K. Rad, Thommy, Davis, Fontas, Salloi
If this lineup stays defensively sound, it could work. A lot of weight will be on the midfield, but I imagine the wingers would sit deeper and it’d be an Agada-island situation. He struggled being on an island against Sacramento, but I think that’s what this game calls for, at least early. Lots of explosion on the break with Tzionis, Duke, Agada and Hernandez though. Not to mention both fullbacks.
If this lineup can hold it together and the recovery process has gone well enough, tons of punch from the bench with Russell, Salloi and Thommy all there. If it’s already out of hand, then let the veterans rest.
The voting is interesting. Obviously the young guys who didn’t play at all leaped up (Pierre, Voloder), as well as Ndenbe, who almost surely has to start with Sweat being carried off. But Cam Duke didn’t emerge as a starter. I imagine you all are right as he’s probably in the dog house for that crappy backheel he did that led to the second LAFC goal.
What’s clear, is even before we knew Shelton was hurt, almost no one wanted him to start.
Here is the tally of your fan vote. Starters in italics and anyone over five percent is referenced here.
Goalkeepers: Pulskamp (93.3%), Melia (6.7%)
Defenders: Ndenbe (100%), Isimat-Mirin/Pierre (83.3%), Voloder (63.3%), Fontas (33.3%), Zusi (20.0%), Rad (16.7%)
Midfielders: Hernandez (86.7%), Walter/Thommy (70.0%), Duke (30.0%), Rosell (20.0%), Espinoza/Davis (10.0%)
Wingers: Russell (73.3%), Tzionis (56.7%), Salloi (50.0%), Shelton (10.0%), Agada (6.7%)
Strikers: Agada (63.3%), Salloi (23.3%), Shelton (13.3%)
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