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Russell & Pierre Upgraded for Sporting KC Ahead of LAFC Match

While there is some good news on the Sporting KC injury report, availability is still pretty bleak ahead of LAFC coming to town. Hamstrings are in short supply.

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Johnny Russell | Credit: Thad Bell

Sporting Kansas City had a full week of training and recovery between games, and they needed it. It still leaves a shaky injury report as they ready for three games in eight days. First up: Los Angeles FC.

Sporting KC Injury/Availability Updates

OUT – Kortne Ford (Achilles surgery), Willy Agada (stress fracture tibia), Tim Melia (quad), Logan Ndenbe (hamstring), Marinos Tzionis (International Duty – Cyprus), Graham Zusi (hamstring)

QUESTIONABLE – Dany Rosero (hamstring), Andreu Fontas (hamstring), Johnny Russell (hamstring), Kayden Pierre (hamstring)

Johnny Russell and Kayden Pierre get bumped up to questionable. Marinos Tzionis is a new addition, but he’s just on international duty and will be available next weekend against the Chicago Fire (though not midweek). No other changes to the report.


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Starting XI Predictions

The injuries make a mess of an assignment for picking a starting XI, especially with so many games coming up this week. First LAFC on Saturday, followed by a road trip to the LA Galaxy on Wednesday before coming back home to host the Chicago Fire the following Saturday. Squad rotation will be key. Or some of these questionable guys being available.

Who fills in for Marinos Tzionis?

With Russell upgraded to questionable, the hope has to be he’ll at least get on the field. He almost certainly doesn’t have 90 minutes in him, and I’d guess he’s unlikely to start. But Vermes didn’t rule it out.

This could just be Peter playing games. Technically Russell is questionable on an injury report that LAFC has access to. Then they have to plan for what to do if he’s out there or not out there. Then if he doesn’t play, they wasted time preparing for him, because there is no one else like him on the roster.

If it’s not Russell, it’s probably Khiry Shelton. Vermes gave a pretty impassioned defense of him after the win over Austin FC last weekend. Outside of that, Stephen Afrifa or Cam Duke could definitely play that spot. That sounds more interesting to me, but I doubt we see that.

An interesting alternative is seeing Erik Thommy on the wing. There are way more healthy, available, quality midfielders than there are wingers. Thommy can definitely play wide (though I bet he’d prefer wide left).

Who plays at Center Back?

Both Rosero and Fontas are still questionable after the week of recovery. They weren’t even on the bench last weekend, but they’ll likely be needed this week. Fontas got burned on the one goal that LAFC scored against KC in their earlier meeting, but he handled himself well otherwise. The pace of the LAFC attackers make them tough to deal with, but they are going to be missing players on international duty, so that’s a plus for KC.

Roberto Castellanos and Robi Voloder handled themselves well against Austin, but obviously LAFC are a completely different test. I have no clue who is healthy enough to go, but hopefully Rosero and Fontas will be able to contribute at some point this week.

Rest of the Lineup

  • The other positions seem pretty settled for me.
  • Radoja is definitely playing defensive midfielder.
  • There is only one health left back and no healthy right backs, but Jake Davis has claimed that spot.
  • Maybe there is doubt as to what two midfielders are in front of Radoja, but I imagine there will be rotation between Erik Thommy, Remi Walter and Gadi Kinda, with whoever doesn’t start subbing in.
  • There has been a lot of debate about who should play goalkeeper, but I suspect McIntosh keeps his job for now.

Rest of the 20: Pulskamp, Espinoza, Afrifa, Duke, Rindov, Hernandez, Russell, Flores, Kinda


Fan XI

There are no new injuries to alter the votes, so that’s a win. A few notes:

  • I love that Jake Davis is the most locked in starter on the back line. Obviously the complete lack of healthy fullbacks plays into that, plus all the other known injuries.
  • I feel like I peer pressured you all into voting Radoja higher on the list. But I’m right. 🙂
  • Tzionis got some votes before I pulled him from the poll for international duty. Whoops!

Here is the tally of your fan vote. Starters in italics with guys at five or so percent showing up with their tallies.

Goalkeepers: McIntosh (78.7%), Pulskamp (21.3%)

Defenders: Davis (98.7%), Leibold (89.3%), Castellanos (64.0%), Voloder (52.0%), Rosero (49.3%), Fontas (33.3%), Ndenbe (12.0%)

Midfielders: Radoja (98.7%), Walter (74.7%), Thommy (72.0%), Kinda (46.7%), Hernandez (6.7%)

Wingers: Salloi (98.7%), Shelton (28.0%), Russell (22.7%), Tzionis (21.3%), Thommy (18.7%)

Strikers: Pulido (98.7%)

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 BuildLineup.com and throw together a graphic if you are feeling fancy.

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