Sporting Kansas City are down to 10 games to go in 2023. Before we get to predictions and injuries/availability, don’t miss how to watch the game, as the broadcast plan was moved around.
- How to Watch
- Injury Updates for the LA Galaxy
- and Predictions
QUESTIONABLE - Khiry Shelton (calf), Logan Ndenbe (hamstring)
#SportingKC Injury/Availability Report:— Chad Smith (@PlayFor90) August 5, 2022
OUT - Duke (red card), Melia (hamstring), Ford (suspension), Cisneros (hamstring), Kinda (knee), Pulido (knee)
QUESTIONABLE - Ndenbe (hamstring), Shelton (calf)#SKCvLA #LAGalaxy
The only new additions to the report are Cam Duke after his double yellow card performance against Austin FC, and Logan Ndenbe who was a late scratch against Austin as well. No other movement on the list.
Starting XI Predictions
In this space, I usually try to do some combination of what I think Peter will do versus what I would like to see him do. This week, I’m just going to straight up say what I’d like to see. With only 10 games remaining and KC likely needing to win nine of them, to steal LalasLand’s comment from this very website, this is the longest preseason ever. These lineup choices should be made towards who will still be here in 2023 getting better and ready for that season or who is on the fence to get their option picked up (or get re-signed) for 2023.
First, if Daniel Salloi won’t sign a contract extension or Sporting KC don’t want to extend him (neither of which I have a solid answer from the team or player on), they should start Marinos Tzionis.
Next to him should be Willy Agada at center forward and Johnny Russell at RW. There aren’t any other healthy forwards on the roster unless Khiry goes from questionable to playing, so Salloi can sub into the game as needed (and Khiry may be gone anyways with his option year possibly declined at the end of the year).
I full expect, until KC are officially eliminated (and if KC are working towards a deal with Daniel), that Salloi starts down the stretch.
Erik Thommy and Remi Walter are definite starters in my mind. Looking at who else is under contract for next year is thin. There is Uri Rosell (guaranteed through 2023, option for 2024), Cam Duke (2023 option, but suspended) and Jake Davis (same as Uri). I expect it’s more likely we see Davis with SKC II.
Not mentioned is Felipe Hernandez, who is out of contract. Hopefully they are working out a deal with him and bringing him back (even if Cody is fine with losing him). So based on that, I’ll start him next to Thommy with Walter at the 6.
Muscle injuries are iffy, so I expect Ben Sweat to start at left back. While Graham Zusi will likely start at right back, I would absolutely start Kayden Pierre to figure out if he is ready to be relied on as the starter next year, or if Zusi should have his option picked up to share those minutes. Zusi is a known quantity. Let him be rotational or a sub down the stretch.
At center back, my preferred pairing would be Kortne Ford (suspended) and Robert Voloder if you are looking towards next year. With Ford out, I’m not sure Kaveh Rad is ready (and I’d guess he’s with the IIs), so I’m guessing Nicolas Isimat-Mirin starts. He has a 2023 option the team can pick up for over $1 million a season. It’s best to see if he’s likely to be around or it’s time to move on. Fontas is out of contract after the year.
In goal, Melia is hurt so it’s obvious PV will probably keep starting John Pulskamp. The 21-year-old needs a chance to redeem that first goal against Austin.
All those words aside, no way PV runs out this lineup. If he does that’s five guys under 22, a sixth that just 24 (Hernandez) and it could easily be another U-22 guy if Ndenbe wasn’t hurt.
Rest of the 20: McIntosh, Salloi, Zusi, Espinoza, K. Rad, Rosell, Davis, Fontas, [empty]
With all the injuries and suspensions, it’s possible the team doesn’t have enough guys to fill out the bench. Especially if they send Duke and Rad on loan to SKC II who play on the road Sunday.
Kayden Pierre leads all defenders in votes, which is awesome. Seemingly most of you want him to start, however, adding up he and Zusi’s votes is well over 100%, so some want Pierre at LB over Sweat (or I guess Zusi at LB). It’s possible. Voloder also beat Fontas.
In the midfield, we agree and interesting Rosell only got a single vote. At forward it’s the status quo, but there is a little interest in Thommy starting there instead. And while Shelton received some votes on the wing, he had none at CF.
Here is the tally of your fan vote. Starters in italics and anyone over five percent is referenced here.
Goalkeepers: Pulskamp (78.4%), Melia (13.5%), McIntosh (8.1%)
Defenders: Pierre (89.2%), Ndenbe (83.8%), Isimat-Mirin (81.1%), Voloder (59.5%), Fontas (45.9%), Zusi (18.9%), Rad (16.2%), Sweat (5.4%)
Midfielders: Walter (91.9%), Hernandez/Thommy (89.2%), Tzionis (16.2%), Espinoza (8.1%), Davis (5.4%)
Wingers: Russell (73.0%), Salloi (67.6%), Tzionis (35.1%), Shelton/Thommy (8.1%), Agada/Cisneros (5.4%)
Strikers: Agada (83.8%), Salloi (13.5%)
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