Sporting Kansas City will look to bounce back from a rough road loss to St. Louis City SC as they return home for four of their next five games. They will welcome the Portland Timbers to town with numerous additions to the injury report.
Sporting KC Injury/Availability Updates
Official #SportingKC Injury/Availability Report:
QUESTIONABLE – Alan Pulido (quad), Dany Rosero (adductor), Logan Ndenbe (ankle), Khiry Shelton (adductor)
OUT – Tim Melia (quad), Kayden Pierre (hamstring), Willy Agada (tibia), Kortne Ford (Achilles)
What a disastrous report!
— Chad Smith (@PlayFor90) May 25, 2023
It’s a truly awful injury report for Sporting Kansas City and I wonder if the overly physical play in St. Louis is the culprit or just playing five games in 14 days. Either way, it raises a ton of questions.
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Starting XI Predictions
Let’s break down the changes in question.
If Not Pulido, then Who is the Striker?
Khiry Shelton (also questionable) and Stephen Afrifa are the only two players who are primarily center forwards on the roster (I’m not sure Shelton even has a job, but I digress). I won’t rule out Afrifa, who showed flashes in his US Open Cup start and off the bench late against LAFC.
However, I wonder if Sporting KC won’t experiment with a false 9? Erik Thommy played some CF in the 3rd round US Open Cup game against the Tulsa Athletic and Gadi Kinda has played the role in seasons past (at least in spots).
Then of course the team’s wingers, Daniel Salloi, Johnny Russell and Marinos Tzionis have all spent some time there, but none of them are a great fit.
I’d expect Afrifa or Thommy if Alan isn’t ready.
What Does Central Defense Look Like?
Dany Rosero has been a starter since just days after arriving in KC and he hasn’t looked back. Then, against St. Louis, something looked to be wrong. He was getting beaten for pace by the glacial running of Andreu Fontas. Is that too many games in too tight of a stretch or just a coincidence?
Either way, if he also can’t play, there will be yet another reshuffling of the back four. Andreu Fontas has been his center back partner. Earlier in the year he was paired with out of position CB Robert Voloder who is very left-footed. He seems to be in the doghouse and perhaps Fontas should join him with some of his turnovers against St. Louis.
I imagine it’s Fontas with Robert Castellanos, but I feel no one’s job is safe after that St. Louis game, which I’m willing to consider an aberration of a particularly good two weeks of soccer. I really don’t rate Castellanos at this point and Voloder (even out of position, or better yet, at LCB) may be a much better option.
We already covered that in the Melia injury piece, which I encourage you to check out. If McIntosh was heading back to the bench, on the heels of giving up four goals would probably be the time.
Rest of the Lineup
- If Ndenbe can’t go, Tim Leibold couldn’t have returned at a better time. He’s definitely not 90 minutes fit though, so will it be Roger Espinoza subbing on for him (he started here against Houston) or Voloder returning to this role?
- I think Jake Davis should absolutely be the starting right back for now, though I expect Graham Zusi is looming.
- If Thommy is playing CF, Gadi Kinda, Nemanja Radoja and Remi Walter should be the starting midfielders, but some depth will be needed as Gadi and Thommy both rarely have 90 minutes in them.
Rest of the 20: Pulskamp, Espinoza, Afrifa, Duke, Rindov, Zusi, Hernandez, Tzionis, Voloder
The voting is all screwed up because of the numerous additions to the injury report. A few notes:
- Y’all think McIntosh is back to the bench. He has let two underneath him in two starts, which is a bad look. Both keepers have flaws and four goals let in is a reasonable reason to make a change.
- Defense is all over the place as Zusi and Fontas are plummeting and Voloder making a nice climb in the votes. Surely if you all know the Rosero news, Robi would have even more votes.
- I’m surprised Radoja isn’t higher in the voting. Of all the midfielders, he feels like the most locked in guy. With Remi, Gadi and Thommy all being able to play the same spot, their votes feel more perilous.
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 (81.6%), McIntosh (16.3%)
Defenders: Rosero (98.0%), Davis (81.6%), Ndenbe (73.5%), Fontas (51.0%), Voloder (32.7%), Leibold (28.6%), Zusi (14.3%), Castellanos (10.2%), Rindov (6.1%)
Midfielders: Walter (83.7%), Thommy (73.5%), Radoja (71.4%), Kinda (55.1%), Hernandez (12.2%), Davis (4.1%)
Wingers: Russell (91.8%),Salloi (87.8%), Tzionis (16.3%)
Strikers: Pulido (85.7%), Afrifa (12.2%)