Sporting Kansas City have done what no team has ever done before. Not won in 10-games and still managed to make the playoffs. Albeit an expanded playoff setup. Their achievement to put out the best record, most points and most goals from May 1st on, cannot be ignored. Their chances to go further have taken a bit of a hit today.
Let’s get to the injury report.
Sporting KC Injury/Availability Updates
OUT – Kortne Ford (Achilles surgery), Kayden Pierre (hamstring), Tim Leibold (groin)
QUESTIONABLE – Johnny Russell (groin), Alan Pulido (foot), Jake Davis (knee sprain), Erik Thommy (calf injury)
Official #SportingKC injury/availability report:
QUESTIONABLE – Davis (knee sprain), Thommy (calf injury), Pulido (foot), Russell (groin)
OUT – Pierre (hamstring), Leibold (groin), Ford (Achilles)
— Chad Smith (@PlayFor90) October 24, 2023
There are three changes to the report this week. The not so obvious one is Alan Pulido’s. He was questionable on Decision Day against Minnesota United, but that was a hamstring. Now he’s dealing with a foot injury.
The additions to the report are perhaps just as concerning if not more so. Jake Davis, who has played most of the right back minutes this season, popped up as a new addition. I did notice him hobbling at times against MNUFC. He’s joined by Erik Thommy, who we knew was dealing with something and was taken off as a precaution.
According to Daniel Sperry’s conversation with Peter Vermes, they are all game time decisions.
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Starting XI Predictions
This update leaves some new questions.
If Davis Can’t Go…
The answer is obvious. Graham Zusi. He was the starting right back to start 2023 and he’s been available on the bench for weeks. This season, he’s only made nine starts (14 appearances, 867 minutes). Jake Davis was given the opportunity — after a few others failed to snatch it — and took the job. It would be disappointing to not see Davis get a chance in the playoffs, but there is really only one choice to replace him.
And Graham would also have something to prove. It’d be an audition to be brought back in 2024. While he only has one assist this season, he has shown a propensity to create from right back.
The other potential options — Kayden Pierre and Tim Leibold — are also hurt. Leibold had a cameo at right back earlier this year and looked good in attack, but the answer would still be Zusi even if Leibold was healthy.
If Thommy Can’t Go…
There is an obvious like-for-like option here too. Gadi Kinda. He’s actually played less minutes than Zusi (just 830), despite being available for more of the season. He has only eight starts, but 20 appearances. He simply hasn’t played much lately. He subbed in the last three games for a combined total of 59 minutes. The last time he started, September 23rd against the Houston Dynamo, he went 62 minutes. He hasn’t gone 90 since the Leagues Cup win over Chivas on July 31st.
It’s possible Peter goes with the healthy Felipe Gutierrez here instead. Felipe definitely doesn’t offer as much in attack as Gadi or Thommy based on his form since re-signing with the club. If Thommy has some minutes in him, they may just start him and let him go as long as he can before bringing on Kinda or Gutierrez. With the possibility of 30 minutes of extra time if the game is tied, you can’t sub Thommy on late if he’s not healthy.
We did this Pulido/Russell Thing Before…
Last week Russell and Pulido were on the injury report. I still think Russell is likely to play, but the foot injury for Pulido has me more concerned. Especially after he had a hamstring injury last week. The obvious replacement for Alan would be Willy Agada. I won’t rehash this entire discussion from last week. Go check it out if you missed it.
Rest of the Lineup
- I didn’t actually change my lineup graphic. If those guys are healthy, that’s the ideal Starting XI in my eyes, based on this roster. If they can’t go the whole game, starting them limits their minutes and the subs would have to go up to 120 minutes if needed.
- I like Gadi always as a super-sub coming in to impact the game.
- Until proven otherwise, Fontas and Rosero are the best CB pairing.
- Ndenbe is the only healthy left back.
- Salloi is the unquestioned starter at LW. Plus, Marinos Tzionis was a healthy scratch last weekend, so he’s not jumping in unless it’s for Johnny.
- Radoja and Walter should both start.
Rest of the 20: Pulskamp, Espinoza, Agada, Castellanos, Voloder, Zusi, Shelton, Kinda, Gutierrez
Obviously, the voting happened before we knew of the new injuries. Also, we only gave you a day to vote with this quick turnaround. A few notes.
- Kinda plummeted in the voting and Remi really climbed. The goal probably helped, and he and Thommy just played well together.
- We’re all settling in on starters as very few backups got any votes (other than the vote they presumably cast for themselves).
Here is the tally of your fan vote. Starters in italics with guys at five or so percent showing up with their tallies.
Goalkeepers: Melia (97.4%)
Defenders: Davis (97.4%), Rosero (97.4%), Fontas (97.4%), Ndenbe (94.7%), Leibold (5.3%)
Midfielders: Walter (94.7%), Radoja (92.1%), Thommy (81.6%), Kinda (23.7%), Gutierrez (5.3%)
Wingers: Salloi (97.4%), Salloi (89.5%), Shelton (7.9%), Tzionis (5.3%)
Strikers: Pulido (92.1%), Agada (7.9%)