Two of MLS's most in-form teams are set to square off at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park on Sunday evening in Kansas City's 80 degree sunshine. Both teams, Sporting KC and FC Dallas, are undefeated after 2 games in league play but it is Sporting Kansas City who heads into the match with the upper-hand. SKC has yet to concede a goal and have 6 points from wins against DC United and New England Revolution - but then again it's only been two games, and Sporting KC's previous two matches were certainly winnable fixtures.
Now Sporting will have to face one of the "top 6" teams in MLS in the way of FC Dallas who have been one of the better teams in MLS in recent years. But last season they were dealt a huge blow when their Colombian play-maker and 2010 league MVP David Ferreira suffered a season ending injury in April. The 32 year old is again on the injury list for FC Dallas along with Fabian Castillo and former Sporting KC player Scott Sealy.
Until David Ferreria returns to the starting XI Brazilian attacking midfielder Ricardo Villar will occupy FC Dallas' play maker role tucked in right behind Blas Perez in Dallas' 4-1-4-1 formation. In that formation they've scored 3 goals, and their single forward up top Blas Perez has had something to do with all 3 of those goals.
"He [Blas Perez] has been their brightest spot in 2012" says Daniel Robertson who I recently spoke to previewing tonight's game. Daniel also points out Perez's intelligence on the ball and tactical awareness as something that Sporting KC should watch out for. Perez is a smart striker and knows exactly what he will do with the ball before it even reaches his feet.
With such a clever forward up top I get a little antsy with Aurelien Collin at center back who has in previous matches been a little bit too jumpy for the ball. At times Collin over anticipates the ball and will sometimes fly right pass the forward. And with a quick burst of speed, Perez could be past Collin and into a foot race with fellow central defender Matt Besler. The way Perez gets the ball is through his midfield and more specifically his central midfielders. Yes, FC Dallas' midfield has always regarded as one of the best in the league and Daniel Hernandez will be at the heart of that. He can open up passing lanes for Perez with a simple switch of attack.
How Sporting KC will look to stop Perez and the rest of Dallas' attack will be by ultimately just keeping possession. We know Sporting KC is a passing team and they showed us that last week against New England. If they can achieve the same possession figures as last week's game they will cut off FCD's passing lanes. It's child's play - if you have possession the other team doesn't, therefor nullifying their attack. It's simple........duh......
Predicted Lineup: GK: Nielsen RB: Myers CB's: Collin, Besler LB: Sinovic CM's: Cesar, Espinoza, Zusi LW: Convey ST: Sapong RW:Kamara
FC Dallas Player to Watch - Blas Perez
As if I haven't already said enough good things about this player he now earns the coveted title of being the main player to watch for FC Dallas. As previously stated, he is a smart striker and could very well be the deciding factor in how many points - if any - FC Dallas walk out of LSP with.
Score Prediction: Sporting KC 2 - FC Dallas 1
With CJ Sapong still one of the hottest strikers in the league and Sporting KC's solid midfield and defense FC Dallas will certainly be tested. The Texan club has played both of their two games at home but will now be 'welcomed' into the melting pot that is LIVESTRONG Sporting Park. They could nick a goal from somewhere but everything just seems to point towards a Sporting KC win.