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Sporting KC Injury Updates & Lineup Predictions v Minnesota

A couple upgrades on the injury report, a new name pops up, and we look at who should start on Saturday.

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Tim Leibold, Sporting KC
Tim Leibold | Credit: Sporting Kansas City

Sporting Kansas City still find themselves with a giant hole to dig out of in the MLS standings. The win over the Seattle Sounders was a step in the right direction, then Wednesday against Houston looked like a setback. Then again, that was with 10 of 11 starters changed. It showed me Vermes is all in on the regular season with the US Open Cup taking a backseat with three games in seven days.

Let’s switch gears and focus on Minnesota United.

Sporting KC Injury/Availability Updates

OUT – Kortne Ford (Achilles surgery), Kayden Pierre (hamstring), Willy Agada (stress fracture tibia)

QUESTIONABLE – Tim Leibold (hamstring), Khiry Shelton (adductor injury)

Two changes on the injury report. Khiry Shelton pops up after leaving the US Open Cup game against the Houston Dynamo early on Wednesday. Tim Leibold also gets an update after being out of action since the home opener against the LA Galaxy.


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Starting XI Predictions

I think there is less debate than usual with such a compact schedule and such obvious rotation Wednesday. That being said, there are still questions to be answered.

Is Graham Zusi back in at Right Back?

On Wednesday, Graham Zusi returned from injury and then played an astonishing 90-minute shift. That was aided by the fact that the Houston Dynamo were only playing with 10-men, so he didn’t have to get up and down the field as much as he otherwise would have.

Long-term, I can’t rule out Zusi being back in the starting right-back role, but Jake Davis should absolutely be the starter this weekend. With Zusi on short rest and just returning from injury, there is no point in taking that risk. Additionally, Davis has earned another start after how he handled Jordan Morris and Leo Chu this past Sunday. His cameo in the Open Cup shouldn’t be an issue because he’s young and fit and could probably play 90 three times in a week if he had to.

Starting Midfield

The return of Nemanja Radoja on Wednesday was another promising sign for a team that depends desperately on a quality defensive midfielder to be effective. But, like Zusi, he played 90-minutes coming off an injury. I suspect he gets a rest this weekend.

That would require Remi Walter to play defensive midfielder again and I see no reason Erik Thommy doesn’t start after his goal and assist performance against the Sounders. The question is, can Gadi play for the third time in a week next to him? He hasn’t played more than a half in any of these games, but he is still coming off a very long-term injury.

Part of what worked for Thommy was him being on the right side of the midfield, but if Gadi can’t go, is it Felipe Hernandez (he subbed out early midweek) since Roger also played 90? Felipe usually plays on the right, but I think he needs to play on the left to keep Thommy out of the space Daniel Salloi occupies. That’s probably the trio, even if Cam Duke would make a ton of sense. He wasn’t even on the bench in the Open Cup, so it seems he’s very out of favor.

I won’t completely rule out Gadi starting again though, with minute restrictions.

Rest of the Lineup

  • Elsewhere, I don’t expect really any changes.
  • Goalkeeper should be unchanged as Melia’s done nothing to lose his job.
  • Logan Ndenbe should be at LB since there are no healthy bodies, unless Leibold’s “questionable” designation is nonsense. A cameo from him may be in order though.
  • Dany Rosero and Andreu Fontas seem to be the preferred CB pairing. Robi Voloder may weirdly be fifth on the depth chart since he didn’t start over Castellanos and Rindov Wednesday.
  • The forwards are likely to be unchanged as well from the Seattle game.

Rest of the 20: Pulskamp, Espinoza, Afrifa, Radoja, Leibold, Zusi, Kinda, Tzionis, Voloder


Fan XI

Ben and I need to coordinate better I suppose. We did a PTL for Houston, but not Minnesota. These triple game weeks!

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 BuildLineup.com and throw together a graphic if you are feeling saucy.

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