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Injury Report and Starting XI Predictions: Sporting KC vs. Philly

The injury report greatly improves for week two over week one for Sporting Kansas City. Just three names appear this week.



Credit: Thad Bell

The Sporting Kansas City season got off to a little bit of a bumpy start last weekend in a clunky 1-1 draw against the Houston Dynamo. No doubt it’s a solid result, despite an uneven performance. Let’s see what role injuries will play in this week’s lineup.

Sporting KC Injury/Availability Updates

OUT – Logan Ndenbe (Torn ACL), Khiry Shelton (ankle surgery)

QUESTIONABLE – Johnny Russell (Groin)

Four names come off the injury report since last week: Daniel Salloi, Tim Leibold, Ozzie Cisneros and Danny Flores. And Daniel Sperry of the KC Star reporting that Russell is “good to go” is a positive sign for this weekend. That’s an upgrade from practice on Tuesday when he sat out team drills. It’s seemingly only the longer-term injuries that will continue to linger.

And now that injury reports are more widely available, here is the Philadelphia Union report.

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Starting XI Predictions

With the news that Russell is probably playing, it’s less about injuries this week when making predictions. Let’s ask a couple questions of the lineup.

What if Russell Can’t Play?

While this seems unlikely, you never know. While I think Alenis Vargas is actually the backup right winger, the last couple of games (regular and preseason) show that Stephen Afrifa is the first winger up if someone is down. He replaced Russell in the final preseason game, he subbed on for him against the Houston Dynamo, and he replaced Salloi earlier in preseason.

You could see a spark of that progress he’s made when he came on against the Dynamo. However, a few nervy touches and overly ambitious passes left everyone waiting for his full breakout. This week could be the week for Afrifa.

Any Other Changes?

Personally, I really doubt it. I think we’ll see the same lineup as we did against the Dynamo, barring some sort of unforeseen circumstances. There are a few folks who are already advocating for Pulido and Russell to go to the bench. I think Vermes will give them another shot, especially in front of the home crowd. But if it’s really the groin that’s hampering Russell or Pulido stays out of form like he’s been since signing his new contract, coming off the bench might do the trick.

It’s good to have options, but I’m chalking most of last week up to rustiness. No one looked particularly good. Yet they still earned a draw. So, it could be worse!

Rest of the Lineup

Since we know the starters (probably), let’s talk about who might sub in for who.

  • I’d like to see all three forwards come off again unless they are on an absolute heater. No need to drive them into the ground and I’m all for Vargas, Agada and Afrifa running at tired Philly defenders.
  • In the midfield, I’d imagine we’ll see Memo Rodriguez for Erik Thommy again because he runs so hard he seems to always gas out before the 90-minute mark.
  • Tim Leibold’s fitness may not be there after missing chunks of preseason, so Zorhan Bassong again seems like the logical choice, barring an injury or red card elsewhere forcing a change.
  • And in the graphic, I left Thommy on the left and Remi on the right despite what we saw last week. Both players said they prefer the opposite side and I’m choosing to believe that was something to do with the opponent and not a permanent plan, but I’m no tactician.
  • Long story short — no changes this week to the bench or starters.

Rest of the 20: Pulskamp, Rodriguez, Agada, Bassong, Voloder, Castellanos, Vargas, Afrifa, Hernandez

Fan XI

A couple observations from the voting this week:

  • Fontas is already taking a dip in the voting. I wouldn’t bench him, but I get the sentiment. He had a rough game to my eyes. Lots of turnovers, overcommitting into the midfield and not maintaining any width on the game tying cross. I’m not sure who he’s guarding there.
  • Russell and Pulido both took a noticeable dip in votes. I don’t think they are headed to the bench, but let’s hope Vermes keeps the leash short if they struggle again. I like that he gave Afrifa and Agada 30 minutes to work. The tactics and nervousness seemed to hold them back, but those two (and hopefully Vargas) are going to link up and make some interesting things happen in 2024.

Here is the tally of your fan vote. Starters in italics. We’ll go back to only showing guys who got around five percent of the vote to take out some of the silliness.

Goalkeepers: Melia (93.8%), Pulskamp (6.3%)

Defenders: Davis (100%), Rosero (97.9%), Fontas (91.7%), Leibold (83.3%), Bassong (12.5%), Voloder (8.3%), Pierre (4.2%)

Midfielders: Thommy (97.9%), Radoja (97.9%), Walter (93.8%)

Wingers: Salloi (93.8%), Russell (87.5%), Afrifa (16.7%)

Strikers: Pulido (89.3%), Agada (8.3%)

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