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Match Preview: Sporting Kansas City at FC Dallas

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Sporting KC open their road schedule against new Western Conference opponent FC Dallas.

Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

About the Teams

Sporting Kansas City

Sporting KC is still adjusting to a new lineup and will have to adjust to a bit of a new defense for this match. Matt Besler is suspended after receiving two yellow cards, resulting in a red, against the New York Red Bulls so Sporting KC will have to find a defensive replacement. It'll also be interesting to see whether Sporting continues to run their 4-2-3-1 like they did against NYRB.There were times where it looked like the team still needed to gel a bit but there were also times where they looked like a proficient squad. We'll see if that continues tonight.

FC Dallas

FC Dallas grabbed three points in their opening match with a late goal against San Jose. The 4-4-2 they ran in the opener allowed them to spread out the game and to give their wings some space but there's still some uncertainty if they'll run it again. They did struggle in building up plays against a weaker San Jose midfield and their speed in the middle didn't seem to take off until the end. However, they have the ability to be dangerous and with Besler out they will certainly be looking to take advantage down the middle.

Who to Watch

Sporting Kansas City - Ike Opara

Ike Opara returned to the pitch for the first time in ten months last week and celebrated by scoring Sporting Kansas City's lone goal. Tonight, he'll be called on to anchor the back line next to either Jalil Anibaba or Erik Palmer-Brown. He'll have to be physical to keep Blas Perez from controlling the attack from the middle. With Roger Espinoza and Benny Feilhaber still working to gel playing back in a 4-2-3-1, Opara is going to have to step up as the last line of defense when/if mistakes happen.

FC Dallas - Atiba Harris

Atiba Harris played right back in the opener against San Jose and did not look comfortable. There were instances where he was out of position, gave the ball away in spots and was generally out of sorts. According to Big D Soccer, he's still a work in progress and that could work in favor of Sporting KC. Bernardo Anor did not have the best game against NYRB but if he is going up against Harris with Sinovic or de Jong making overlapping runs behind him, Harris is going to need to step up big to keep that flank shut down.

How They'll Win

Sporting Kansas City

FC Dallas has a lot of speed and quality in their midfield and up top with Fabian Castillo and Mauro Diaz, which means Sporting KC are going to have to own the middle. Benny Feilhaber needs to be able to create and Roger Espinoza needs to destroy, while allowing Dwyer and Nemeth to push forward and attack the center. FC Dallas is going to try and attack down the wings, so Zusi and Anor are going to be busy neutralizing that, so if Sporting are going to score it's going to be through the middle.

FC Dallas

The centerback pairing will not be ideal for Sporting KC so FC Dallas needs to take advantage of that. Much like Sporting KC, this game is going to be won in the middle. Espinoza and Feilhaber are still working to form a strong alliance playing back, so if Castillo, Dias and Perez can exploit those mistakes and take advantage of Opara and his centerback partner, they should be able to get in and score. They need to build up better than they did last week, but if they can this team is extremely dangerous on the attack.

Predictions

Lineups

Sporting Kansas City: Marin; Sinovic, Opara, Anibaba, Dia; Espinoza, Feilhaber; Anor, Nemeth, Zusi; Dwyer

FC Dallas (from Brian Wachholz): Seitz, Hernandez, Hedges, Loyd, Harris, Ulloa, Diaz, Castillo, Hollingshead, Perez, Akindele

Scoreline