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Sporting KC Injury Update and Starting XI Predictions Versus Austin FC

How should Sporting KC approach the rest of the year for roster decisions?

Austin FC v Sporting Kansas City Photo by Bill Barrett/ISI Photos/Getty Images

Sporting Kansas City have just nine games to go in the MLS regular season before packing it up for a very long break. Probably. Before getting to the injuries/lineups, be sure to check out The Blue Testament match preview for the Austin FC game.

MATCH PREVIEW: Sporting KC vs Austin FC


  • How to Watch
  • Stats
  • Injury Updates for Austin FC
  • and Predictions

Injury/Availability Updates

OUT - Alan Pulido (knee surgery), Gadi Kinda (SEI - knee surgery), Ozzie Cisneros (hamstring), Kortne Ford (suspension), Tim Melia (hamstring)

QUESTIONABLE - Khiry Shelton (calf), Logan Ndenbe (hamstring)

The only “change” is Cam Duke is no longer suspended, but I don’t think we’ll see him start. In fact he could be in the dog house after that last game. If PV has no desire to use him at all, I wouldn’t mind a spot start in MLS Next Pro to get that confidence back.

Starting XI Predictions

Last week I took a shot at predicting a lineup I wanted, versus what I thought we’d actually see. I stand by those predictions, but my fears of Peter Vermes putting out an ‘ideal’ lineup to win now versus in the future proved to be true. And it worked really well. This week, let’s break down individual position battles as I imagine most of the lineup will be the same.

Espinoza or Hernandez?

I think Erik Thommy and Remi Walter are penciled in starters (written in ink may be a better way to say it). Last weekend, Roger Espinoza got the start and played really well. However, he’s on the last year of his deal and has definitely shown signs of slowing down. Both he and Felipe Hernandez are out of contract, so I’d like to see how Felipe pairs with this midfield duo. I can’t see not brining Hernandez back (even if Cody can), but at least I’d like him to start every other game down the stretch at the worst. At least.

Zusi or Pierre?

Graham Zusi, outside of his recent spat of injuries, hasn’t looked like he’s regressed in 2022. And he does have a team held option for coming back in 2023. That said, much like the Espinoza/Hernandez situation, I want to see what the team has with Pierre. Last time they played Austin he did a good job. He was on the field for the first goal (of which John Pulskamp knows he should have saved that shot) and the second goal came when Zusi held Sebastian Driussi onside, after subbing in for Pierre.

Let Kayden get this start. If it’s Zusi again, at least rotate to where Zusi starts with Hernandez and Pierre starts with Roger, unless the chemistry dictates it should be the other way around.

Fontas or Voloder?

This seems the least likely rotation to happen. Voloder hasn’t appeared in a game since his start against Real Salt Lake when SKC gave up three goals nearly a month ago. And he only got that start because Andreu Fontas was suspended for yellow card accumulation. Outside of that, you have to go back to the June 12th game against the New England Revolution start where PV was so miffed he subbed off both Voloder and Kortne Ford at the half.

For that reason, I doubt we see Voloder. But Fontas is out of contract after the year and seems unlikely to return without taking a huge pay cut. If not this game, then soon I’d like to see Voloder getting some minutes to get his feet underneath him and see if he’s ready to compete for a starting spot in 2023.

The Other Spots

  • I saw some recommendations of Pierre or Zusi at LB, and while I won’t rule it out, until Logan Ndenbe is healthy, I suspect it’s Ben Sweat’s spot. If he can’t start when the ‘starter’ is hurt, then that’ll probably really hurt his morale. And he was better last week, until he wasn’t. Maybe if he’s tired down the stretch (which he did look like it), Pierre or Duke sub on if they aren’t starting.
  • While I’d like to see more of Marinos Tzionis; Daniel Salloi and Johnny Russell seem to be locked in starters. Hopefully Willy Agada is locked in too, but that debate will have to wait until Khiry is healthy (but it’s not really a debate, right??).

In the end, I think the only change to the starters is Hernandez for Espinoza, even if I think more should be made. But it worked so well, Peter will probably just run last week’s guys out week after week.

Rest of the 20: McIntosh, Tzionis, Pierre, Espinoza, K. Rad, Rosell, Davis, Voloder, Duke

Technically SKC can fill out a full bench with Duke back, but I’d guess some of the guys (David, Rad) stay home to play for SKC II. I suppose it’s possible they travel, sit the bench, and fly home and play Sunday though.

Fan XI

Despite being injured on each week’s report, Ndenbe still gets a good chunk of the vote. Plus Pierre remains out ahead of Zusi in the tallies. The rest lines up with my picks.

Here is the tally of your fan vote. Starters in italics and anyone over five percent is referenced here.

Goalkeepers: Pulskamp (81.8%), Melia (13.6%)

Defenders: Isimat-Mirin (87.9%), Ndenbe (74.2%), Pierre (71.2%), Fontas (60.6%), Voloder (40.9%), Zusi (33.3%), Sweat (22.7%), Rad (9.1%)

Midfielders: Walter (93.9%), Thommy (87.9%), Hernandez (78.8), Espinoza (19.7%), Tzionis (10.6%)

Wingers: Russell (84.8%), Salloi (77.3%), Tzionis (21.1%), Shelton (6.1%)

Strikers: Agada (92.4%)

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