Sporting Kansas City enter their seventh game still searching for their first win. Luckily, the Colorado Rapids haven’t won yet either, so maybe the door is open?
Sporting KC Injury/Availability Updates
QUESTIONABLE – Gadi Kinda (knee surgery), Logan Ndenbe (hamstring)
Official #SportingKC Injury/Availability Report:
QUESTIONABLE: Gadi Kinda! (knee), Logan Ndenbe (hamstring)
OUT: Tim Leibold (hamstring), Kayden Pierre (hamstring), Nemanja Radoja (hamstring), Kortne Ford (achillies)
— Chad Smith (@PlayFor90) April 5, 2023
Big upgrades on the report for Gadi Kinda and Logan Ndenbe! I’m not sure we see either of them, but even a cameo at this point is very promising.
Also, a downgrade for Radoja after he left early against the Rapids last weekend because you just can’t have too much good news in KC.
Starting XI Predictions
Another week and another set of questions for Sporting KC to answer.
Ben Sweat has been Released… Left Back?
Last week he was just suspended, but now he’s gone from the team. Robert Voloder stepped in to replace him against the Philadelphia Union, and that possibility is on the table again this week. Another option that’s available is Cam Duke, who played 90 minutes of LB for SKC II over the weekend.
I could see Duke getting this start. He has the pace to keep up with the Colorado Rapids wingers and is the better option going forward. It’s likely that Colorado will play more defensive on the road and look to hit on the counter. Voloder was a good option when the team needed to play more defensive against the offensive juggernaut of the Union, but Colorado have hardly been dangerous going forward. They also only have two goals on the year, like Sporting.
Logan Ndenbe moving up to questionable could mean he’s set to at least come on as a sub, but I definitely wouldn’t guess that he starts.
Does Castellanos Start Again?
Last weekend, new signing Dany Rosero started after just six days in the country, and he seems a lock to keep playing right center back. But who starts next to him? Against Philly, it was Robert Castellanos, who seemed like a panic signing after the news that Kortne Ford would miss the entire season. He performed well, if unremarkably in the shutout.
However, I think we’ll see a center back with better distribution against Colorado to jump start the attack. If it’s Duke at LB especially, you have some athletic cover if you go with Andreu Fontas or Voloder. Plus, looking at Castellanos’ passing map (right), shows someone needs to move the ball forward with all his lines (barely) connecting with his LB and RCB (literally not going forward to anyone else or even back to Melia).
I think Voloder should start at LCB. It’s possible Fontas wasn’t in the doghouse and just got a rest or tactical adjustment versus Philly, if he’s out there, maybe Voloder still plays left back, as he may have enough pace (though nothing near Duke’s pace) to cover.
Is Pulido Ready to Start?
We discussed this on Thursday’s episode of For the Glory KC. Spoiler for that brief portion, but here was my position. I think Pulido should start for several reasons:
- He’d get to be paired with Johnny Russell, likely for Pulido’s entire shift.
- It would show Willy Agada he’s not a guaranteed starter and maybe push him more.
- Plus, Agada would be able to come off the bench and inject life, potentially against a more fatigued defense.
Vermes could be careful with Alan, but I think if he went 30 minutes last game, it’s reasonable he goes at least 45 this time, then a switch can be made if needed.
Rest of the Lineup
- I still think Felipe Hernandez should be playing above Roger Espinoza. Roger looks super tired considering only six games have been played.
- Tim Melia likely earned himself another start over John Pulskamp. We’ll see if this is an open competition going forward.
- Russell, Salloi, Thommy, Walter and Zusi all seem penciled in to start for the foreseeable future, with only Zusi maybe coming under some pressure when Kayden Pierre returns. Just kidding of course.
Rest of the 20: Pulskamp, Espinoza, Ndenbe, Shelton, Fontas, Davis, Castellanos, Tzionis, Agada
If this lineup is right, I think you are just missing Leibold as your starting left back and Radoja as your d-mid. I’m not expecting this lineup though, because frankly we all know Espinoza will probably start.
You all voted for a familiar defensive setup based on last week’s lineup, which is probably a safer bet than all my changes (I had to leave Sweat’s votes in though for fun).
The midfield and forward vote is interesting because it seems people are looking for a way to get Pulido and Agada on together (even if not enough votes came in for that idea to be the “starters.” We’ll see. Outside of the defense, we are aligned with our votes though.
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 (92.8%), Pulskamp (7.2%)
Defenders: Rosero (83.0%), Voloder (79.1%), Zusi (75.2%), Castellanos (60.1%), Leibold (34.0%), Fontas (32.7%), Pierre (17.0%), Duke (12.4%), Sweat (3.3%)
Midfielders: Thommy (89.5%), Walter (89.5%), Hernandez (43.8%), Espinoza (30.7%), Radoja (27.5%), Duke (7.2%), Pulido (5.9%)
Wingers: Russell (94.8%), Salloi (88.9%), Tzionis (7.8%), Duke (5.9%), Agada (5.2%), Pulido/Shelton (4.6%)
Strikers: Pulido (66.0%), Agada (37.3%)