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Pulido and Russell Added to the Injury Report for Sporting KC

Pulido and Russell are on Sporting Kansas City’s Decision Day injury report with everything on the line against Minnesota United.



Is it just me, or is Russell saying "shit" in this picture? | Credit: Thad Bell

Sporting Kansas City have everything to play for on Decision Day as Minnesota United travel to Children’s Mercy Park. So, of course, there are new names on the report.

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 (hamstring)

There are three changes on the report from two weeks ago and they are massive. The good news is Andreu Fontas is off the report. He had an abdominal injury that held him out against Real Salt Lake. And it was fine with Robbie Voloder in his place as RSL had 10-men very early. But when Fontas and Dany Rosero were out of the game in the second half, it was beyond shaky.

The awful news is the addition of Russell and Pulido. They have combined to account for 44.4 percent of all of Sporting KC’s goals this season (20 of 45). Plus, they have six assists as well. That’s a level of production that this team cannot afford to miss on the last game of the year.

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Starting XI Predictions

This update leaves some questions.

If Pulido Can’t Go…

Willy Agada is the obvious replacement. Since returning from injury during the Leagues Cup, he’s only played 126 minutes, but he’s scored three times! Two of them were garbage time consolation goals (St. Louis and Toluca) but they count the same regardless. The one scored against the Houston Dynamo wasn’t great either, but he puts himself in the right spot.

Pulido has scored four times over that same stretch, but with many more minutes (591).

The real concern is that Pulido is once again potentially not available. It’s his second injury since he signed a three-year extension during the summer. Neither have been serious, but it’s a concern. Your most expensive player needs to be available when it matters most.

Sporting KC Playoff Scenarios and Potential Opponents

If Russell Can’t Go…

If Pulido and Russell are out, I think it’s Khiry Shelton on the wing. He and Agada are likely to create a more dangerous tandem as they can use their speed to stretch Minnesota United who have a tendency to send numbers forward to create opportunities. Counters should be there, and Shelton has shown himself to be an adept crosser from the right wing and to be capable of holding the ball up to release runners.

If Pulido plays, but Russell can’t go, I’d think Marinos Tzionis would be a better option to interplay with Pulido. That said, it’ll probably be Shelton and he can sometimes fill the space the Pulido vacates when he drops into the midfield.

We all know Johnny Russell is going to play unless he’s dying though. If Sporting KC manage to pull this off their reward could very well be a midweek play-in game. That’s going to be even harder if the team is dealing with injuries.

Midfield Combinations

The last few weeks, Remi Walter has started games on the bench and Felipe Gutierrez has started ahead of him. Guti is fine, but I’d much rather it be some combination of Erik Thommy, Gadi Kinda or Remi Walter in the first two midfield spots and Nemanja Radoja behind them.

I’d lean towards Thommy and Walter together, with the dynamism of Kinda off the bench.

Rest of the Lineup

  • After the near disaster against a 10-man RSL side, I suspect Fontas and Rosero are back in together. That said, Fontas was absolutely roasted last time out by Emanuel Reynoso. Ndenbe has to stay back and help.
  • No changes at fullback for Ndenbe or Davis.
  • Obviously, that just leaves Daniel Salloi on the wing and Tim Melia in goal.
  • With a mid-week play-in game the most likely scenario if Sporting KC aren’t eliminated, Peter Vermes better use his bench as this could become a triple game week.

Rest of the 20: Pulskamp, Espinoza, Agada, Castellanos, Voloder, Tzionis, Shelton, Kinda, Gutierrez

Fan XI

Obviously, the voting happened before we knew of the Russell and Pulido injuries. A few notes.

  • Russell and Pulido obviously dominated without their injury news (would you change this vote now? Tell us in the comments.)
  • Thommy has become the highest vote getting midfielder on any of these articles I’ve written. Usually there is a pull between him and Kinda, but with Remi not consistently starting down the stretch, the votes are getting split differently.
  • The Defensive Player of the Year, Jake Davis, is rightfully pulling in the most votes at RB.

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 (97.8%)

Defenders: Davis (97.8%), Rosero (93.5%), Ndenbe (93.5%), Fontas (89.1%), Leibold (10.9%), Voloder (8.7%)

Midfielders: Thommy (97.8%), Radoja (78.3%), Walter (69.6%), Kinda (32.6%), Gutierrez (17.4%)

Wingers: Russell (100%), Salloi (95.7%)

Strikers: Pulido (95.7%)

What is your preferred lineup? Let us know in the comments below. You can also add pictures in the comments too, so maybe go to and throw together a graphic if you are feeling fancy.

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