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Sporting KC Injury Updates & Lineup Predictions v Chicago

There are lots of lineup questions heading into the third game in eight days for Sporting Kansas City. What changes Saturday against the Chicago Fire?



Credit: Thad Bell

Sporting Kansas City are having a bit of a down week after an exceptional six weeks leading up to this. They picked up just one point in two games, one of which was a home game loss to LAFC. I agree with Peter Vermes who said it wasn’t good enough. But with a third game in eight days, will they have the legs to hang with the Chicago Fire?

The good thing is the Fire are in the exact same situation. They had a mid-week trip to the West coast to play the Portland Timbers (but they won). So at least it’s not like the week where this happened, and KC had to play a rested St. Louis team. And it’s a home game!

Sporting KC Injury/Availability Updates

OUT – Dany Rosero (yellow card accumulation), Cam Duke (concussion), Kortne Ford (Achilles surgery), Willy Agada (stress fracture tibia), Tim Melia (quad), Logan Ndenbe (hamstring), Graham Zusi (hamstring)

QUESTIONABLE – Kayden Pierre (hamstring)

Marinos Tzionis is off the list, so presumably he’s available, though he did play a bit for Cyprus on this trip overseas. Between that and travel, who knows where his legs are. Andreu Fontas officially comes off the report after starting Wednesday. And Dany Rosero is added to the report with his yellow card accumulation.

I had a friendly debate with fellow KCSJ writer Jimmy Mack online about this, and I’m fine with the card. However unintentional, Rosero and Judd’s runs are coming across each other and it appears Rosero’s shin clips his boot, and it causes Judd’s foot to hit Judd’s own leg and he goes down. The accidently foul is just outside the 18-yard-box and he’s receiving the ball going in on goal. I think we’d want it to be a yellow the other way. I don’t think intent matters!

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Starting XI Predictions

Somehow, I have a ton of questions about this lineup. Let’s get to it.

Who Starts for Rosero?

I’d assume Andreu Fontas gets another start at LCB, but who lines up next to him? Lately, it’s felt like Robert Castellanos is third in line all the time and the primary backup. He had the game of his life against Austin FC and came back down to earth afterwards. I suspect it’s him at RCB.

If Fontas cannot go, Robert Voloder did well at left center back last time out and I’m fine with him there. He and Fontas are comparable passers and Robi is more athletic. He is somewhat mistake prone though, but Chicago don’t have the most punishing offense.

Is Johnny Russell Ready to Start?

Marinos Tzionis will be back, so if Russell isn’t ready, then at least it won’t be a midfielder out of position or Khiry Shelton being forced to start. Tzionis is playing out of position too (he’s clearly an inverted left winger), but he’s the best option if Russell doesn’t have at least a half in him to be the starter.

No offense, but hopefully this buries Shelton on the bench until the team is up by two or three goals.

Is Gadi Kinda Back?

Gadi missed the midweek game for the birth of his child. If he’s back, I’m good with him starting or being a super sub. Erik Thommy has been putting a lot of the weight on his shoulders and coming off the bench could be a good option. Gadi is still clearly not 100 percent, so if he needs to be a sub that feels like a good option too.

Hopefully he’s gotten a little sleep this week.

Time to Change Goalkeepers?

I think if there was a time, it was after the LAFC game. Kendall McIntosh and Khiry Shelton communicated so badly, they directly setup keeping Vela onside. The LA Galaxy game just adds to it. McIntosh made the saves he should make and nothing else. Tim Melia is good for a spectacular save or two, so I’d be fine with Pulskamp getting a chance, but I doubt it happens. Pulskamp feels like an explosive shot stopper too, but his feet are pretty questionable.

To Rotate or Not?

I think we all know Peter is going to run out primarily the same lineup. I have real concerns about the potentially injury consequences of such a move, but it doesn’t seem to change things. The overwhelming number of hamstring injuries this year tell you a story that has to be at least partially tied to lack of rotation.

I think there is a compelling case to start a few guys like Stephen Afrifa or maybe an alternate in a few other spots, then make a triple sub at the half (like LAFC) and bring on more “starters” to go for it. I think that won’t happen though and a little of it is there is no depth. Who else can play LB but Leibold? Roger out of position to close a game is fine, but I don’t want him starting there. Same for Davis at right back. I think the Khiry experiment is over there until he puts in a LOT of time figuring out how to hold an offside trap since two of the last three goals allowed found him caught out.

Rest of the Lineup

  • Walter has a gas tank that never runs out.
  • The same is true of Daniel Salloi.
  • Nemanja Radoja seems to do well conserving energy and positioning himself to stay in all the games. And he’s needed, he’s so important. Maybe the most important.

Rest of the 20: Pulskamp, Espinoza, Afrifa, Rindov, Voloder, Shelton, Hernandez, Flores, Thommy

Fan XI

Apparently, we didn’t put Tzionis into the vote… so that skews things! A few notes:

  • Kendall McIntosh dropped significantly in the voting. You all are feeling it too.
  • Thommy was also not a starter in the midfielder, but mostly because he got more winger votes than he would have if Tzionis was in the poll. Sorry y’all! Blame Ben! 🙂

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 (65.9%), Pulskamp (34.1%)

Defenders: Davis (95.1%), Castellanos (92.7%), Leibold (85.4%), Fontas (78.0%), Voloder (29.3%), Ndenbe (17.1%)

Midfielders: Radoja (95.1%), Walter (70.7%), Kinda (65.9%), Thommy (58.5%), Hernandez (9.8%)

Wingers: Salloi (90.7%), Russell (78.0%), Thommy (22.0%), Afrifa (4.9%)

Strikers: Pulido (95.1%)

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 and throw together a graphic if you are feeling fancy.

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