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Sporting KC Injury Updates and Lineup Predictions v Philadelphia



Johnny Russell; Sporting KC Injury Updates
Credit: Sporting Kansas City

Sporting Kansas City are back in action, still looking for their first win of 2023, as they travel to the East Coast to take on the Philadelphia Union. For more on the Union, be sure to check out our sister site, Philadelphia Soccer Now.

Sporting KC Injury/Availability Updates

OUT – Kortne Ford (Achilles surgery), Gadi Kinda (knee surgery), Logan Ndenbe (hamstring), Kayden Pierre (hamstring), Tim Leibold (hamstring), Ben Sweat (red card)

QUESTIONABLE – Nemanja Radoja (quad)

The big news of the week is Alan Pulido and Johnny Russell are officially off the injury report! That said, Melia and Radoja weren’t on the report for weeks but didn’t play or had a limited role (Radoja). Speaking of Radoja, he is officially on the report after picking up a quad injury after the report came out last week.

Even before the full report was out, we knew that Tim Leibold wouldn’t be available early in the week.

Additionally, we got the good news that Gadi Kinda had gotten deeper into his practice participation. Is this phase three? Phase four? There are only four phases, so hopefully that means he’ll be back very soon.

Starting XI Predictions

We know there will be at least one change to the lineup. Let’s breakdown if we foresee any others.

Ben Sweat is Suspended

I won’t rehash all these arguments from earlier this week, but I’m guessing it’s one of two options. Cam Duke plays left back or Robert Voloder does. If Duke does, no other changes are necessary.

If it’s Voloder at LB, then that opens up the RCB spot. It could fall to existing signings like Chris Rindov or Robert Castellanos, or it could go to new arrival Dany Rosero, who arrived this week and immediately got involved in practice and it was reported he could be available Saturday. I can’t rule it out.

Can Pulido or Russell Start?

Johnny Russell actually got into the game last weekend against the Seattle Sounders. Unfortunately, Sweat picked up his red card less than two minutes later and Johnny played down a man the rest of the way. According to Peter Vermes, Alan Pulido was planning to sub into the Seattle game as well (before that aforementioned red card).

The question becomes, can one or both of them start on Saturday? I would guess it’s a no all the way around, but if it were going to be anyone, I’d suspect it’s Russell. The fact that he already played 30 minutes likely means that he is the closest to being able to play a half, which feels like the minimum you’d see anyone who starts.

I just don’t see any way that Alan Pulido is starting, especially off Willy Agada getting his first goal on the year. I think we’ll see both guys, but we’ll see them off the bench in Philly.

If it’s not Russell, is it Shelton?


I considered not writing anything else, but it’s worth noting that Marinos Tzionis is returning from international duty and will hopefully be available. Khiry Shelton hasn’t had a stellar two years with the club, though I think he’s not been as horrific as some have made him out to be. It feels like people notice every one of his mistakes and gloss over the mistakes of others.

That said, we know what Khiry has to offer. Let Tzionis take a shot at it on Saturday to see if he can generate anything before Russell subs on for him.

Is there a Goalkeeper Change?

Tim Melia made his return to the gameday 20-man roster last weekend when he backed up John Pulskamp. Then Pulskamp proceeded to concede four goals, most of which were probably not his fault. I completely discount everything that happened after the red card and the first goal was definitely not John’s fault. He could probably do better on the second chance, but I’m hoping he’s still the starter.

Unless Tim Melia is stopping absolutely everything in practice, Pulskamp is the future and maybe the present. I’d like to see him have more time before the rug is pulled out from under him.

Rest of the Lineup

  • As I said in the left back article, Voloder is probably the most defensively responsible option. I’m just going to go ahead and lose my mind and say Rosero starts after having just arrived. He doesn’t even have a number (hence the blank spot in the graphic), but #5 feels like a good guess for a central defender. Then again, he wore #24 at his last few clubs (but that is occupied by Pierre).
  • Everything else probably doesn’t change. But I’m just going continue to make wild predictions and predict Hernandez and Tzionis start too. I’ve decided this week’s lineup is what I want, not what Peter wants.

Rest of the 20: Melia, Espinoza, Rindov, Shelton, Duke, Davis, Castellanos, Russell, Pulido

That bench is starting to look a whole lot better!

Fan XI

I’ve been thrilled with the fan engagement this year on the lineup voting. I don’t know if it’s anger votes, but the total number of you voting each week is great! To the results!

Tim Melia didn’t overtake Pulskamp, but he surged up in the voting after his first appearance on the bench last week. An interesting thing happened at center back. Robert Voloder got the most votes after Fontas was perceived to have faltered last week against Seattle (and everyone tumbled in percentages received at CB). Leibold still got starter level votes and who can blame us for hoping he’d be back by now!

In the midfield the hopes of a Radoja start are once again dashed as he is officially on the injury report this week (for the first time this season). Ozzie Cisneros even garnered some midfield votes after playing for SKC II last week (though he came off the bench for them too). And at forward, you all think Russell gets the start with no other changes.

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 (61.7%), Melia (35.0%), McIntosh (5.0%)

Defenders: Voloder (78.3%), Fontas (70.0%), Zusi (65.8%), Leibold (53.3%), Pierre (34.2%), Rosero (30.8%), Duke (27.5%), Castellanos (13.3%), Rindov (13.3%), Davis (5.8%)

Midfielders: Thommy (90.8%), Walter (86.7%), Radoja (48.3%), Hernandez (41.7%), Espinoza (16.7%), Duke (10.0%), Cisneros (5.0%)

Wingers: Salloi (90.0%), Russell (84.2%), Tzionis (10.8%), Shelton (5.8%), Agada (4.2%)

Strikers: Agada (62.5%), Pulido (34.2%)

What do you think your lineup would be now, knowing how the injury report is laid out? 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 spicy.

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