Sporting Kansas City will look to bounce back this week after netting seven goals in two games, but blowing a 3-1 lead over Austin FC last weekend. They welcome to town the Portland Timbers, who crushed them 7-2 on the road in May.
MATCH PREVIEW: Sporting KC vs Portland Timbers
- How to Watch
- Injury Updates for Portland Timbers
- and Predictions
OUT - Alan Pulido (knee surgery), Gadi Kinda (SEI - knee surgery), Kortne Ford (suspension), Tim Melia (hamstring)
QUESTIONABLE - Khiry Shelton (calf), Ozzie Cisneros (hamstring)
Official #SportingKC Injury/Availability Report:— Chad Smith (@PlayFor90) August 19, 2022
OUT - Melia (hamstring), Ford (suspension), Kinda (knee), Pulido (knee)
QUESTIONABLE - Cisneros (hamstring), Shelton (calf)
An upgrade for Cisneros who's been out since getting injured in the US Open Cup.#SKCvPOR
The only changes this week is a slight upgrade for Ozzie Cisneros who moves to questionable and Logan Ndenbe comes off the report after sitting the bench last weekend. Even if Cisneros is fully available, he’s very unlikely to play. But there were reports of him being at practice this week.
Ndenbe on the other hand...
Starting XI Predictions
I’m not sure there is much to debate at this point. If Kansas City run the table and win all eight games, they can possibly still slip into the playoffs. I say this knowing they are 1-4-1 in their last six. Go back nine games and they are 2-6-1. Winning eight in a row seems impossible, but I don’t anticipate Peter changing much in his lineup with possibly one exception.
Ben Sweat had a very bad end of the night against Austin. It frankly started pretty good, as did his game against the LA Galaxy before it turned sour. It probably comes down to him not fully being healthy, as Thad said on the Shades of Blue Soccer Show this week, and that he never seemed likely to be the starter.
With Logan Ndenbe healthy enough to not be on the report, I’d think he’d start after some harsh words Peter Vermes had post-game that almost certainly have to be directed at Sweat. Then again, Ndenbe is probably not 90 minutes fit after a muscle injury, so I bet these two split time on Sunday.
You know the old saying, “father time is undefeated.” Graham Zusi turned 36 this week and he’s the oldest field player on the team. But I don’t think that’ll stop him from starting as he’s mostly been really good, even if I’d like to see a lot more of Kayden Pierre.
I’m less certain the Roger Espinoza keeps starting, but he’s got a good 45-55 minutes in him if there is no midweek game and he’s looked really good in those minutes. I suspect he’ll keep starting with Felipe Hernandez coming off the bench. That said, if he’s retiring or not getting re-signed after the season, Vermes needs to flip this rotation around and give Hernandez the bulk of the minutes.
The Other Spots
- I’m not sure much else is up for debate. The CB play is getting a lot of grief, and it’s been less than stellar, but it doesn’t seem PV is there yet with Robert Voloder taking over. Maybe he’s waiting to pair him with Ford when he’s back from suspension.
- Up top it’s not broken so I’d expect the trio of Johnny Russell, Willy Agada and Daniel Salloi.
- John Pulskamp has given up a lot of goals, but many of them seem to not be his fault, though he has had a few times where he should have done better. With Melia still out, I don’t see Kendall McIntosh getting the start, but you never know.
- And it’s Thommy and Walter to round out the midfield.
Rest of the 20: McIntosh, Tzionis, Pierre, Hernandez, K. Rad, Rosell, Davis, Voloder, Duke
Another full bench, that’s always nice. We’ll see if any of these guys pop-up for SKC II at the Tacoma Defiance on Saturday.
So the fan vote feels more reflective of what you all want than what you all expect to see. Both Pierre and Hernandez overtake Zusi and Espinoza in my lineup above, and I’m all for that. The rest of the vote lines up and feels right as Isi is the clear top CB at this point with the vote pretty split after that. I’m definitely down for more Voloder, especially after Thad said he was scoring bangers in the small sided games at practice. And because Fontas almost surely won’t be here in 2023.
Here is the tally of your fan vote. Starters in italics and anyone over five percent is referenced here.
Goalkeepers: Pulskamp (87.5%), Melia (12.5%)
Defenders: Isimat-Mirin (87.5%), Pierre (75.0%), Ndenbe (65.0%), Fontas (57.5%), Voloder (52.5%), Zusi (32.5%), Sweat (22.5%), Rad (7.5%)
Midfielders: Thommy (97.5%), Walter (90.0%), Hernandez (62.5%), Espinoza (22.5%), Duke (12.5%), Zusi (7.5%)
Wingers: Russell (87.5%), Salloi (72.5%), Tzionis (27.5%), Duke (7.5%)
Strikers: Agada (90.0%), Salloi (7.5%)
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