Sporting KC Injury Update and Starting XI Predictions Versus Seattle

Sporting Kansas City returns home for a second time in 2023 to host the Seattle Sounders. The only plus is that the Sounders are very exhausted due to international use.

Injury/Availability Updates

AUS – Kortne Ford (Achilles surgery), Gadi Kinda (Knee surgery), Logan Ndenbe (paralyze), Kayden Pierre (hamstring), Marinos Tzionis (Int. Duty – Cyprus)

QUESTIONABLE – Alan Pulido (knee surgery), Tim Leibold (paralyze), Johnny Russell (thigh)

Three changes to the report this week. Johnny Russell is upgraded to questionable following the reports he was in the practice during the weekMarinos Tzionis is moving to Cyprus so is on international duty and the surprise of the week is Kayden Pierre missing after a guest appearance against Dallas.

And we tend to focus on the home team, but it’s worth noting how many Sounders players are on international duty. So you’re saying there’s a chance?!

Start XI predictions

Let’s talk about how player availability affects this weekend’s lineup.

Can Tim Leibold play?

I was ready to say Kayden Pierre should be at left-back after Ben Sweat cost the team their second loss (two for two Ben!) with a terrible giveaway that resulted in Jesus Ferreira’s game winner for FC Dallas , then Pierre appeared on the damage report.

That brings us back to hope that Tim Leibold is willing to avoid another Ben Sweat start. I wonder if Sweat is more vilified in Kansas City than Khiry Shelton? I think it’s very likely that the sweat will start again given there are literally no other healthy full-backs available.

I guess we could always see Cam Duke? It definitely felt like a Peter Vermes “anger sub” after Sweat’s giveaway, although it should be noted that Pierre had put his jersey on a few minutes early when Sweat took a hit.

Is Alan Pulido finally ready?

There has been much talk of Alan Pulido dancing on Instagram after Daniel Salloi scored the opening goal of the 2023 season for Sporting KC. If he can dance, he can certainly play. I was lucky enough to see him in training ahead of the home game against LA Galaxy two weeks ago and he looked ready then.

I’m sure he probably won’t start, but at least he needs to be on the bench and hopefully get into the game. I think we could see a pre-scheduled classic PV sub for 15-30 minutes of action. I ridiculously predicted that he would come off the bench and win the game. No pressure Alan.

Can Radoja start?

Another move that could really fix this team is Nemanja Radoja from the start. It would bring a stronger midfielder (Remi Walter) higher up the pitch and he has the reach to cover the entire ground like Roger Espinoza, even if he doesn’t quite have the same bite when it comes to his challenges.

If somehow Radoja still isn’t ready, I’d love to see Felipe Hernandez make the start, as I endorsed this week at For the Glory KC. Felipe isn’t Roger but he runs for days, can attack and last but not least delivers an amazing set ball. Hell, he almost earned a second penalty against Dallas with a hustle play. Start Nemanja, but if he is not read, start Felipe (we all know that Roger will probably continue to start, even if something has to give, as it does not work offensively in 2023).

The rest of the lineup

  • There isn’t much more to discuss. Obviously if Russell can go he should play over Khiry Shelton but I don’t expect someone like Duke to play out of position before Shelton otherwise.
  • There are literally no other healthy full-backs so Zusi should start at RB (and I think he played well in 2023).
  • The CB pairing was solid, although Fontas watched the ball a bit on Dallas’ second goal (I still blame Sweat for the giveaway).
  • No need to change goal as Pulskamp has been very solid although one wonders if/when we will eventually see Tim Melia.

Rest of the 20: McIntosh, Leibold, Hernandez, Espinoza, Rindov, Duke, Pierre, Pulido, Russell

I’m getting stupid with my predictions (especially on the bench) at this point, but what can you do?

fan XI

There was a significant uptick in Melia votes, maybe people are blaming John a bit for that second goal (the first is a golozo and I won’t hear anything else). Pierre fired into choices for left-back before the injury news broke so you’re all as over Ben Sweat as I am.

Robert Castellanos has achieved an increase in votes this week. I wonder who you all want between Fontas and Voloder? And we left Tzionis in the poll even though he was on international duty, which messes up the results (sorry). He could be back next week though, depending on how soon he flies home.

Cam Duke has noticeably gained extra votes in midfield and on the wing and Agada (despite starting) falls again on the CF votes. He definitely lacks confidence.

Here is the tally of your fan vote. Starters in italics with guys at five or so percent showing up with their balance sheets.

goalkeeper: Pulse camp (92.2%)Melia (8.7%)

Defender: Fontas (93.1%), Voloder (90.5%), Zusi (76.7%), Pierre (52.6%), Leibold (44.0%), Sweat (25.9%), Castellanos (11.2%), Rindov (2.6%)

midfield player: Thommy (95.7%), Walter (93.1%), Radoja (56.0%)Espinoza (28.4%), Hernandez (22.4%), Duke (5.2%)

Winger: Salloi (94.8%), Tzionis (31.9%)Shelton (30.2%), Russell (19.8%), Duke (15.5%), Agada (6.9%)

Striker: Agada (74.1%)Pulido (23.6%), Shelton (3.4%), Cisneros (2.6%)

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