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Sporting Kansas City vs. FC Dallas Match Preview

Sporting KC attempts to make a jump in the Western Conference standings as they host second-place FC Dallas.

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

About the Teams

Sporting Kansas City

The home side comes into this match unbeaten in their last five and in prime position to leapfrog several teams in the Western Conference. Fourth place Sporting Kansas City can make the move into second with a win over FC Dallas, but they'll need big performances from their paper-thin depth. They will be without Seth Sinovic, Paulo Nagamura and Jacob Peterson and likely without Marcel de Jong and Dom Dwyer. The good news is that Roger Espinoza is likely to return and Graham Zusi can return to the starting lineup, but it'll still be a leak-plugging lineup.

FC Dallas

FC Dallas came into 2015 with raised expectations after their playoff appearance in 2014 and they have not disappointed, racing out to 21 points in 12 games, good for second in the Western Conference. They are coming off a road loss to Montreal, but had gone unbeaten in five matches before that. They are possibly without midfielder Fabian Castillo and are definitely without Stephen Keel for this match, but the rest of the lineup should be ready to go.

Who to Watch

Sporting Kansas City- Roger Espinoza

The Dragon returns after two matches on the injury list and could provide some help in the midfield against an FC Dallas team who really excels in the middle. The big question regarding Espinoza will be whether he is 100 percent or not and whether he can disrupt play in the middle of the pitch. If he can play well against a tough FC Dallas midfield and shut down their offensive attack in the middle, the options they have on the wing will become that much more important. Any avenue shut down against one of the best attacking teams in the league is a win.

FC Dallas- Matt Hedges

Matt Hedges is already one of the best defenders in the league and he can come up big for FC Dallas tonight. Sporting KC's attack is weakened with Dom Dwyer likely out, but Krisztian Nemeth has been a nice addition for Sporting. He has shown good ability to get away from defenders so a large part of Hedges' responsibility will be to continuously mark Nemeth and to keep him out of range of goal. If Nemeth is neutralized, then Sporting KC's attack down the middle is weakened and they will have to resort to other measures of scoring.

Why They'll Win

Sporting Kansas City

FC Dallas is a very efficient shooting team, earning 18 goals on 50 shots on goal. Sporting KC will have to force bad shots from FC Dallas by keeping their defenders back and not allowing them to be caught too far forward. Sporting KC has shown signs of changing their style a bit from their high-pressing, fullback overlap system of the past which may work in their favor here. With all four defenders back, they may be able to force FC Dallas to settle for long shots and inefficient set piece opportunities, which gives Sporting KC the opportunity to shut them out and earn three points.

FC Dallas

One piece of Sporting KC's style that has changed in 2015 has been Sporting KC's time of possession. The previous three matches have shown Sporting KC to be on the lower end of the possession battle and FC Dallas has the attacking presence to make Sporting KC hurt when they're losing possession. If FC Dallas can come into Sporting Park, control the possession and use their superior strength at wing to overpower Sporting KC's lackluster fullback play then they stand a good chance of taking all three points on the road.

Predictions

Lineups

Sporting Kansas City: Melia; Dia, Besler, Ellis, Anibaba; Mustivar, Espinoza, Feilhaber; de Jong, Nemeth, Zusi

FC Dallas: Kennedy, Hernandez, Loyd, Hedges, Watson, Ulloa, Michel, Hollingshead, Akindele, Diaz, Perez

Scoreline

Sporting Kansas City 2-2 FC Dallas