Sporting KC Injury Update and Starting XI Predictions Versus Austin FC

Sporting Kansas City has just nine games left in the MLS regular season before wrapping up for a very lengthy hiatus. Probably. Before you get to the injuries/lineups, be sure to look around The Blue Testament Match preview for the Austin FC game.


  • how to watch
  • statistics
  • Injury updates for Austin FC
  • and predictions

Injury/Availability Updates

OUT – Alan Pulido (knee surgery), Gadi Kinda (SEI – Knee Surgery), Ozzie Cisneros (paralyze), Kortne Ford (suspension), Tim Melia (hamstring)

QUESTIONABLE – Khiry Shelton (calf), Logan Ndenbe (hamstring)

The only “change” is that Cam Duke is no longer suspended, but I don’t think we’ll see him start. In fact, he might be in the kennel after that last game. If PV doesn’t feel like using him at all, I wouldn’t mind a spot start in MLS Next Pro to regain that confidence.

Start XI predictions

Last week I was trying to predict a lineup I wanted versus what I thought we would actually see. I stand by those predictions but my fears of Peter Vermes fielding an ‘ideal’ line-up to win against the future now have been proven true. And it worked really well. Let’s break down each position battle this week as I imagine most lineups will be the same.

Espinoza or Hernandez?

I think Erik Thommy and Remi Walter are penciled in appetizers (inked is maybe a better way of putting it). Roger Espinoza came into play last weekend and played really well. However, he is in the final year of his contract and has definitely shown signs of slowing down. Both he and Felipe Hernandez are out of contract so I’d like to see how Felipe fits in with this midfield duo. I can’t see not bringing Hernandez back (even if Cody can), but at least I’d like him to start every other game down the line, worst-case scenario. At least.

Zusi or Pierre?

Aside from his recent injury spate, Graham Zusi hasn’t looked like he’s going back in 2022. And he has a team option coming back in 2023. That said, similar to the situation between Espinoza and Hernandez, I want to see what the team has with Pierre. The last time they played Austin he did a good job. He was on the field for the first goal (which John Pulskamp knows should have saved that shot) and the second goal came when Zusi kept Sebastian Driussi on the side after coming on for Pierre.

Let Kayden make that start. If it’s Zusi again, at least rotate to where Zusi starts with Hernandez and Pierre starts with Roger, unless chemistry dictates it should be the other way around.

Fontas or Voloder?

This seems like the most unlikely rotation. Voloder has not appeared in a game since his start against Real Salt Lake when SKC conceded three goals almost a month ago. And he only got that start because Andreu Fontas was suspended for yellow card accumulation. That being said, you have to return to the June 12 game against the New England Revolution, where PV was so upset that he substituted both Voloder and Kortne Ford at halftime.

Because of this, I doubt we’ll see Voloder. But Fontas is out of contract after the year and it seems unlikely he will return without a huge pay cut. If not this game, then I’d love to see Voloder get a few minutes to get his feet together and see if he’s ready to fight for a spot in 2023 soon.

The other places

  • I’ve seen some recommendations from Pierre or Zusi at LB and while I won’t rule it out until Logan Ndenbe is well, I suspect it’s Ben Sweat’s spot. If he can’t start when the “starter” is injured, then it will probably hurt his morale a lot. And last week he got better until he wasn’t. Maybe if he’s tired on the track (which he looked like) Pierre or Duke will get in if they don’t start.
  • While I’d love to see more of Marinos Tzionis; Daniel Salloi and Johnny Russell appear to be locked in starters. Hopefully Willy Agada will be there too, but this debate will have to wait until Khiry is sane (but it’s not really a debate, is it??).

In the end I think the only change in the starting XI is Hernandez for Espinoza, although I think more should be made. But it went so well that Peter will probably run last week’s boys out week after week.

remainder of the 20th: McIntosh, Tzionis, Pierre, Espinoza, K. Rad, Rosell, Davis, Voloder, Duke

Technically, SKC can take a full bench with Duke’s back, but I suspect some of the guys (David, Rad) are staying home to play for SKC II. I suppose it’s possible that they travel, sit on the bench and fly home and play on Sunday.

fan XI

Despite Ndenbe being injured in every weekly report, he still gets a good chunk of the vote. In addition, Pierre stays ahead of Zusi in the balance sheet. The rest is consistent with my choices.

Here is the tally of your fan vote. Starters in italics and anyone over five percent are referenced here.

goalkeeper: Pulse bout (81.8%)Melia (13.6%)

Defender: Isimat-Mirin (87.9%), Ndenbe (74.2%), Pierre (71.2%), Fontas (60.6%)Voloder (40.9%), Zusi (33.3%), Sweat (22.7%), Rad (9.1%)

midfield player: Walter (93.9%), Thommy (87.9%), Hernandez (78.8)Espinoza (19.7%), Tzionis (10.6%)

Winger: Russell (84.8%), Salloi (77.3%), Tzionis (21.1%), Shelton (6.1%)

Striker: Agada (92.4%)

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