It's been three weeks since the last league match for Sporting KC. Since then they've been overmatched at home by Montreal and lost in their bid for their second straight US Open Cup title. Three weeks is a long time to simmer about a team who's last match did not leave a good impression. This match may end up being one of the most important of the year because it may dictate Sporting's momentum as they head into July.
However taking on FC Dallas on the road will not be an easy task, even with a full strength team.
About the Teams
Sporting Kansas City
Sporting has never played well in May and June under Peter Vermes and this year has been no different. Sporting lost to Montreal 2-1 on June 1st and to Orlando City on June 12th. However the lack of games gives Sporting some time to rest and time to get ready for Dallas. Plus Sporting will have all of their players back from national team duty. Graham Zusi and Matt Besler looked good for the United States and should come back in top form for Sporting. The same is for Kei Kamara, Mechack Jerome, Peterson Joseph and Soony Saad and their respective national teams.
This break may end up being the best thing for Sporting KC this season. They'll be fresh and ready to go against Dallas.
(Also the Cauldron is bringing 600+ supporters. Should be a great atmosphere)
Dallas has transformed from non-playoff team last year to the Western Conference leaders this year. The team is a wall at home, giving up only four goals in Dallas and scoring 13 for a +9 goal differential. Their depth is better, there's not as many injuries and the team is playing with a very good chemistry as opposed to 2012. They are embroiled in a battle for the top of the West as they only hold first place by one point with multiple teams on their tail. This is just as much of an important match for Dallas as it is for Sporting.
Players to Watch
Sporting KC- Graham Zusi
The last time Graham Zusi played a league match after an international stint he played out of his mind in a 2-0 victory of the Montreal Impact. This time around Zusi has been training with international caliber players for nearly a month and played in four matches as opposed to two back in March. Look for Zusi to carry the international momentum into Dallas and provide some real spark on the wing for Sporting KC.
FC Dallas- Blas Perez
Blas Perez is another MLSer getting back from international duty but he and his side did not have the same success that Zusi and the US had. Perez caught a stomach bug and was not able to play for Panama against the United States. However Perez has played well for Dallas this season, scoring five goals in ten matches. If Perez is in top form tonight there should be no reason why Dallas can't put up multiple goals.
How they will win
Sporting will need Benny Feilhaber to be a big playmaker and to be the driving force in the midfield. FC Dallas is a solid team overall but their midfield can be exposed if Sporting wins their battles in the midfield. We've seen what this team can look like when Feilhaber is playing well and Benny will have to play well if Sporting are to grab a big win on the road.
Dallas will need to use their wings to beat Sporting's outside backs. The wing play for FC Dallas this year has been one of the reasons why they've been so successful. Teams eventually fold under the pressure that FC Dallas puts on through the forwards. If Dallas can make Seth Sinovic and Chance Myers sweat the whole game, it will be a very good night for the Western Conference leaders.
Sporting KC: Nielsen, Myers, Besler, Collin, Sinovic, Nagamura, Rosell, Feilhaber, Kamara, Bieler, Zusi
FC Dallas: Fernandez, John, Lloyd, Zimmerman, Benitez, Watson, Michel, Ferreria, Jackson, Castillo, Cooper
Sporting KC 1-1 FC Dallas
Both teams will play really good games and each team will sneak a goal in but the defenses should hold the score to no more than one goal a piece.