QUESTIONABLE - Alan Pulido (knee surgery), Tim Leibold (hamstring), Johnny Russell (hamstring)
#SportingKC injury report ahead of #SKCvSEA (as of 3/22):— Daniel Sperry (@sperrydaniel94) March 23, 2023
QUESTIONABLE: Alan Pulido (Knee), Johnny Russell (Hamstring), and Tim Leibold (Hamstring)
Out: Kortne Ford, Logan Ndenbe (Hamstring), Kayden Pierre (Hamstring), Gadi Kinda (Knee),
Marinos Tzionis (INTL)
Three changes on the report this week. Johnny Russell gets an upgrade to questionable after the reports he was in practice midweek, Marinos Tzionis joins Cyprus so he’s away on international duty and the surprise of the week is Kayden Pierre is out after making a cameo against Dallas.
And we tend to focus on the home team, but it’s worth mentioning how many Sounders players are out on international duty. So, you’re saying there’s a chance?!
For Club & Country— Seattle Sounders FC (@SoundersFC) March 21, 2023
Six players have been called in:
• Alex Roldan
• Raúl Ruidíaz
• Xavier Arreaga
• Obed Vargas (U-20s)
• Reed Baker-Whiting (U-19s)
Starting XI Predictions
Let’s talk about how the player availability impacts this weekend’s lineup.
Can Tim Leibold Play?
I was all set to say Kayden Pierre should be the starting left back after Ben Sweat cost the team it’s second loss (two for two Ben!) with a terrible giveaway that led to the Jesus Ferreira game winner for FC Dallas, then Pierre popped up on the injury report.
That leads us back to hoping that Tim Leibold is ready to go to avoid another Ben Sweat start. I’m wondering if Sweat is becoming more maligned in Kansas City than Khiry Shelton? I think it’s very likely Sweat starts again as there are literally no other healthy fullbacks available.
I guess we could always see Cam Duke? It definitely felt like a “rage sub” from Peter Vermes after Sweat’s giveaway, though it should be noted that Pierre was over putting his jersey on from a few minutes early when Sweat took a knock.
Is Alan Pulido Finally Ready?
Much has been made of Alan Pulido dancing on Instagram after Daniel Salloi scored the opening goal of the 2023 season for Sporting KC. If he can dance, surely he can play. I was lucky enough to see him in practice before the home opener two weeks ago against the LA Galaxy and he looked ready then.
I’m sure he probably doesn’t start, but he’s got to at least be on the bench and hopefully get into the game. I think we could see a classic PV pre-planned sub for 15-30 minutes of action. I did ridiculously predict he’d come off the bench and score the game winner. No pressure Alan.
Can Radoja Start?
Another move that feels like it could really fix this team is Nemanja Radoja starting. It’d get a more potent midfielder (Remi Walter) further up the pitch, and he has the range to cover all the ground Roger Espinoza does, even if he doesn’t have quite the same bite in his challenges.
If somehow Radoja still isn’t ready, I’d like to see Felipe Hernandez get the start, as I advocated for on For the Glory KC this week. Felipe isn’t Roger, but he runs for days, can get into the attack and if nothing else, delivers an amazing set piece ball. Heck, he almost earned a second penalty kick against Dallas with a hustle play. Start Nemanja, but if he’s not read, start Felipe (we all know Roger will probably keep starting, even if something needs to give since it’s not working offensively in 2023).
The Rest of the Lineup
- There isn’t much else to debate. If Russell can go, he should obviously play over Khiry Shelton, but I don’t expect someone like Duke to play out of position ahead of Shelton otherwise.
- There are literally no other healthy fullbacks, so Zusi should start at RB (and I think he’s played well in 2023).
- The CB pairing has been solid, even if there was a bit of ball watching from Fontas on the second goal by Dallas (I still blame Sweat for the giveaway).
- No need to make a change in goal, as Pulskamp has been very solid, though one wonders if/when we will see Tim Melia eventually.
Rest of the 20: McIntosh, Leibold, Hernandez, Espinoza, Rindov, Duke, Pierre, Pulido, Russell
I’m getting stupid with my predictions (particularly on the bench) at this point, but what can you do?
There was a marked rise in Melia votes, maybe people blaming John a bit for that second goal (the first one is a golozo and I won’t hear otherwise). Pierre shot into starting left back votes before the injury news had come out, so you all are over Ben Sweat as much as I am.
Robert Castellanos got a rise in votes this week. I wonder who you all want benched between Fontas and Voloder? And we left Tzionis in the poll even though he was on international duty, so that messes with the results (sorry about that). He could be back next week though, depending on how quick he flies home.
Cam Duke noticeably got extra votes at midfield and winger and Agada tumbles again (despite starting) in CF votes. He’s definitely lacking confidence.
Here is the tally of your fan vote. Starters in italics with guys at five or so percent showing up with their tallies.
Goalkeepers: Pulskamp (92.2%), Melia (8.7%)
Defenders: Fontas (93.1%), Voloder (90.5%), Zusi (76.7%), Pierre (52.6%), Leibold (44.0%), Sweat (25.9%), Castellanos (11.2%), Rindov (2.6%)
Midfielders: Thommy (95.7%), Walter (93.1%), Radoja (56.0%), Espinoza (28.4%), Hernandez (22.4%), Duke (5.2%)
Wingers: Salloi (94.8%), Tzionis (31.9%), Shelton (30.2%), Russell (19.8%), Duke (15.5%), Agada (6.9%)
Strikers: Agada (74.1%), Pulido (23.6%), Shelton (3.4%), Cisneros (2.6%)