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Sporting KC Injury Update and Lineup Predictions vs LA Galaxy

Three additions and three subtractions from the player availability report for Sporting Kansas City against the LA Galaxy.



Credit: Seven One Mag

Sporting Kansas City ready themselves for game two of their homestand that takes a quick break next week and returns for three more home games. The time to collect points is now, with a long road trip looming to balance the schedule. They’ll welcome the LA Galaxy to town.

Sporting KC Injury/Availability Updates

OUT – Logan Ndenbe (Torn ACL), Khiry Shelton (ankle surgery), Alenis Vargas (Intl. Duty – Honduras)

QUESTIONABLE – Andreu Fontas (hamstring), Memo Rodriguez (hamstring), Johnny Russell (hamstring)

As Sperry says above, Daniel Salloi and Remi Walter come off the injury report, but Memo and Johnny are new additions. Ozzie Cisneros is also off the report.

Memo Rodriguez subbed out at halftime of the San Jose Earthquakes game because Vermes said he was experiencing some tightness, and they didn’t want to risk him. It’ll be interesting to see if he’s on the bench or if it’s once again Felipe Hernandez as the only midfield depth on the team. Hernandez has yet to see the field since the regular season started.

I always feel like, if the team is in a pinch, Jake Davis can move up into the midfield and Kayden Pierre can come on at right back too.

The Galaxy will be missing two players as they are far healthier entering this matchup.

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Starting XI Predictions

There are definitely a few spots up in the air.

Even if Fontas Can Play…

The LA Galaxy has the same record as Sporting KC, but they’ve gotten there in a far different way. The Galaxy have nine goals to SKC’s four, and they’ve allowed seven to Sporting’s three. The reason is fairly simple, they attack with numbers and pace and their defense is a bit shaky and old.

With the inclusion of the word pace, giving Andreu Fontas another week to recover feels like a good idea. Robert Voloder wasn’t perfect in replacing him, but he played pretty dang good. And, most importantly, he made a few recovery runs that required speed, and he pulled it off. He even had one where he completely crossed the field and won the ball.

With Joseph Paintsil screaming down the right side of the Galaxy attack, having some speedy cover for Tim Leibold at LB feels like a really good idea. And who knows, maybe Voloder will be this year’s Jake Davis. He gets onto the field because of an injury to the starter and he proves he should stay on there. Fontas is 34 years old and out of contract after the season. It’s time to see what the team has in Voloder who has a contract option to be decided on after 2024.

No Johnny, No Problem?

It sounds like Russell isn’t going to play, which feels smart. No need to risk him long-term with 30 league games to go before the playoffs.

If Russell is in fact out, then it opens the door for a start for one of the young wingers on the roster to step up. Even though he told the KC Soccer Journal left wing is his preferred spot, Stephen Afrifa seems to be the 3rd winger on the depth chart. He’s subbed into every game the team used substitutes. He has 71 minutes over three appearances. An extended run may be just what he needs to find his rhythm.

If he doesn’t have 90 minutes in his legs, Alenis Vargas is not around to sub in for him though. He’ll be away on full national team duty with Honduras and that timing couldn’t be worse. He’d definitely get his largest run out of minutes as a sub for Afrifa or Salloi if he was around. That does open the door for the re-emergence of Marinos Tzionis from obscurity. He didn’t even play with SKC II last week after being with the team throughout preseason. Maybe Saturday will be his chance.

Let’s Flip the Midfield

One thing Vermes and company have been doing all season is playing Erik Thommy on the right of the midfield and Remi Walter (or recently Memo Rodriguez) on the left. With Russell out, the attack will likely need to move up the left. Thommy is the more attacking of the midfielders. The only flaw with this idea is if Leibold is up the field, the team could be even more exposed to the attacks from Paintsil.

Jake Davis has made good strides joining the attack on the right, but one wonders if Russell being out puts a stop to that. Maybe Leibold can still push forward, and Davis can stay home more in a sort of pseudo back three with Voloder’s pace covering Paintsil. Then Dany Rosero can continue the quality distribution he showed last week as the center of the three player back line.

Lineup Notes

  • The LA Galaxy have a bad defense that is down a center back due to a red card and another due to injury. I’m not sure who is up next, probably Eriq Zavaleta. When Pulido wears down, Vermes needs to get Agada on to run at the tired (and old) defense to cause chaos.
  • I have doubts of a full nine player bench, but there is no reason not to with homes games for the first and second team this weekend. If a player like Tzionis or even Danny Flores go unused, they can head to Rock Chalk Park on Sunday were Ventura County FC (formerly LA Galaxy II) will also be in town.
  • It’s wild how quick the hamstring injuries are piling up. The depth took a big hit between hammys and international duty.

Rest of the 20: Pulskamp, Rodriguez, Agada, Bassong, Pierre, Castellanos, Tzionis, Flores, Hernandez

Fan XI

A couple observations from the voting this week:

  • Voloder’s performance jumped him up the votes, even if more people still thought Fontas would come back and start again.
  • I’m still stunned Radoja doesn’t get 100 percent of the vote. Who else can even play that spot with any quality? I guess Remi, but it’s not even close. If Radoja is healthy, this team is far better with him out there.
  • We probably should have taken Vargas out of the poll. He’ll be back for next weekend’s game in Toronto.
  • And it looks like you all anticipated Russell might not be ready to go after his early against the Quakes.

Here is the tally of your fan vote. Starters in italics. And everyone else who got around five percent or more of the vote.

GoalkeepersMelia (93.2%), Pulskamp (6.8%)

Defenders: Davis (100%), Rosero (100%), Leibold (95.5%), Fontas (56.8%), Voloder (45.5%)

MidfieldersThommy (93.2%), Radoja (90.9%), Walter (84.1%), Rodriguez (22.7%), Pulido/Tzionis (4.5%)

Wingers: Salloi (95.5%)Afrifa (50.0%), Russell (34.1%), Vargas (13.6%)

Strikers: Pulido (93.2%), Agada (6.8%)

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