With two wins in the first two road matches of the season, Sporting Kansas City now head to Dallas to face Supporter's Shield leaders FC Dallas. But Sporting could jump in front of them with another win on Sunday night. I got with Drew Epperley from fellow SB Nation blog, Big D Soccer, to talk about the big match.
We ask them...
1) FC Dallas had a midweek clash as well and defeated the Timbers 3-1. Will Dallas be resting any legs this weekend or will they be at full force?
Drew Epperley: That is the debate going on here now that Dallas is back in town. We know Chris Seitz won't be rested as Jesse Gonzalez is off to Mexico for a U-23 camp this weekend. Carlos Gruezo is also suspended on a yellow card accumulation, so Victor Ulloa and Kellyn Acosta will likely be pared together in the middle of the park. Outside of that, I would imagine we'll see someone like Zach Loyd be brought back into the lineup in the defense, and possible the same can be said for Atiba Harris. Other than that, everything will probably be fairly similar to Wednesday night.
2) So... that Fabian Castillo guy. He's pretty good. His chipped goal this week was one of the classiest I've ever seen and at times he looks too good for MLS. Will Dallas be able to hold on or do you see him going overseas before long?
Drew: Castillo does have that ability to turn it on whenever he likes to, which is pretty awesome to have. There are moments when FCD loses him mentally on the field, like we saw in our last couple of home games. He just didn't look himself in those games but with him it only takes one or two touches and then he is back to his electric play. I think FCD will be able to hold on to him this year, even if he shines in Copa America for Colombia. Thankfully FCD isn't going to sell him cheaply, so it will take a big offer to pry him away from this team.
3) A popular pick this year, Dallas is off to a great start atop the Supporter's Shield standings (although they have played an extra game). Are you expecting silverware this season and what other teams do you see as title contenders to compete with?
Drew: Everyone following this team in 2016 is expecting some form of silverware. The team has been building on what they have for two years and continue to inch their way towards it like last year's Supporters' Shield and MLS Cup. I can't see a way that this team doesn't bring home something to the trophy case this season with the talent that they have brought in and kept. The key once again will be staying healthy for the long haul. FCD does have a lot more games to deal with this season thanks to the Champions League, so managing those tricky parts of the schedule will go a long way but so far Pareja is showing that he has the depth to do it.
Big D Soccer Lineup:
Chris Seitz, Ryan Hollingshead, Matt Hedges, Zach Loyd, Maynor Figueroa, Kellyn Acosta, Victor Ulloa, Fabian Castillo, Michael Barrios, Tesho Akindele, Maximiliano Urruti
They ask us...
1. SKC stumbled on Wednesday night at home in a pretty ugly loss to Colorado. How does Peter Vermes expect his team to bounce back on Sunday?
Cody Bradley: Peter's teams are always going to have good discipline and can handle a tough loss professionally. I would say it probably helps they are jumping right back into it after a few days. If the loss to RSL followed up by a road shutout win over NYRB is any indication they should be fine. Vermes tried to rest several players in the midweek game but was forced to bring them on anyway. This is a deep squad and nobody has played too many minutes yet, so I see this lineup being close to full force and ready to go.
2. Do you think Vermes was wise to hold out Benny Feilhaber and Dom Dwyer until the second half of Wednesday's game in order to keep them fresh for Sunday?
Cody: That's difficult. Because in hindsight I'm pretty sure they win that game if even one of those two plays the whole game. When they were on the field it looked like a different team out there. But both decisions made sense at the time. With late season lulls the last two years this team is being insanely careful with players. They have a deep lineup and plan to use it.
The Dwyer situation is interesting. There is no question that Dom could play 90 minutes both games, but SKC went out and got Rubio on loan as a young DP. They have an option to keep him but PV needs to actually get a glimpse at the player to decide when that times comes. And with Benny, he isn't the youngest player in the world and he does a lot of work each game. Plus when you've got a player like Jordi Quintilla in the bench, you look for reasons to get him in a game.
To answer your question... I liked that Rubio was given a look and you can bring Dom in late if something bad happens, but I think it was a mistake to keep Benny on the bench to start. And yes, I'm saying that fully aware his mistake directly led to the Rapids second goal. He's the MVP and it's a different team without him.
3. Sporting is currently undefeated on the road in 2016, what has changed so far this season in their approach away from KC?
Cody: I haven't seen too much different in their approach. Sporting KC will always be a tough team to beat. They are undefeated and picked up six huge points in their two road matches this year, but it's still just two. The Seattle game was a wet rainy affair and SKC got a fortunate goal and just grinded the rest of the match out. Then against NYRB, Tim Melia put on his cape and became an absolutely superhero to secure all three points there. They had no business winning that one.
So yes the defense is stronger at every position this year, but I don't think much has changed in PV's approach to road matches. Today will be another huge test.
The Blue Testament Projections:
(4-3-3) Tim Melia, Saad Abdul-Salaam, Nuno Coelho, Ike Opara, Amadou Dia, Lawrence Olum, Roger Espinoza, Benny Feilhaber, Graham Zusi, Dom Dwyer, Connor Hallisey
FC Dallas 1 - 1 Sporting KC