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The Blue Testament

Sporting KC Injury Update and Starting XI Predictions Versus Seattle

One player gets an upgrade, but another player is added to the injury report.



Sporting Kansas City return home for just the second time in 2023 to host the Seattle Sounders. The one plus is the Sounders are very depleted due to international duty.

Injury/Availability Updates

OUT – Kortne Ford (Achilles surgery), Gadi Kinda (knee surgery), Logan Ndenbe (hamstring), Kayden Pierre (hamstring), Marinos Tzionis (Int. Duty – Cyprus)

QUESTIONABLE – Alan Pulido (knee surgery), Tim Leibold (hamstring), Johnny Russell (hamstring)

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?!

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

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?

Fan XI

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%)

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