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SKC v FCD: Preview, Predictions, Injuries & Starting XI

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Sporting Kansas City play for the first time at home against the defending Supporters’ Shield winners.

MLS: Sporting KC at FC Dallas Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

FC Dallas @ Sporting KC

Saturday, March 11, 2017 at 8:00 PM CT

Fox Sports KC | MLS Live

Children’s Mercy Park hasn’t hosted a home MLS game since October 23rd of last year against the Earthquakes. Sporting Kansas City will rectify that when they welcome the defending Supporters’ Shield and Lamar Hunt US Open Cup Champions to town for their 2017 home opener. The crowd should be lively as usual, but even more so now that beer (and other items) are cheaper to buy.

There is potentially good news for SKC when you look at their home record against Dallas. They are 1-5-1 since opening Sporting Park Children’s Mercy Park. That includes four straight home wins (across all competitions) including a drubbing in the 2015 US Open that Sporting KC eventually won. The last time these teams met in KC was filled with controversy as a Lawrence Olum back pass went over the line before Tim Melia cleared it out, however the officials never saw it.

The FC Dallas team that put up that abysmal record in Kansas City has evolved greatly. Dallas is the youngest team in MLS and arguably the best. They have a slew of Homegrown players who are contributing and picking up significant interest. None more notable than Kellyn Acosta who scored the game winner against LA last week.

FC Dallas’ Offseason

Dallas spent the offseason getting younger (if you can believe it) while still adding an important veteran piece. Javier Morales moves over from longtime SKC rival RSL to replace Mauro Diaz who is recovering from a torn Achilles tendon. In addition, possibly the biggest move was adding Christian Coleman, a striker out of Paraguay. This could give Dallas the one thing they’ve lacked; a young target forward.

Injuries

Sporting KC

OUT: Diego Rubio (torn ACL)

QUESTIONABLE: Cameron Iwasa (hamstring strain), Erik Palmer-Brown (ankle sprain)

FC Dallas

OUT: Mauro Diaz (torn Achilles tendon), Ryan Hollingshead (neck injury), Anibal Chala (sports hernia injury), Victor Ulloa (sports hernia injury)

QUESTIONABLE: None

Starting XI Predictions

Rest of the 18: Zendejas, Abdul-Salaam, Mustivar, Blessing, Ellis, Salloi, Saad

Trying to predict a Peter Vermes Starting XI can be a challenging thing. Last week the fan voting and the staff voting matched 100% and Vermes went another way. He surprised a lot of people by starting Jimmy Medranda at right winger. In the preseason that had been Gerso Fernandes and Latif Blessing had played out wide left.

MLS: Sporting KC at FC Dallas
Peter Vermes being casual. As he’s so often known to be... right?
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Not only did Vermes put Medranda somewhere no one had seen him play, he didn’t use a single substitute. As for match day two, both I and the fan voting agree the lineup will stay the same. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Sporting snagged an away point with this lineup so it’s likely Vermes sticks with it. There are so many more options in 2017, so he may be more willing to change lineups week to week.

It’s entirely possible that since Dallas is more dangerous offensively that Vermes would opt for a stronger defensive lineup with Saad Abdul-Salaam starting over Zusi but I doubt it. With Medranda playing wing on the same side as Zusi, they can cover for one another (after all, Medranda did play full back most of last season).

[It should be noted that the fan vote for the Starting XI, while matching the above 100% was really close. Latif Blessing had just two less votes to be a starter than Medranda. No other position was even close. SAS was the next closest player getting Starting XI votes and he merely received 10.]

As for predicting an outcome in this game. Sporting KC haven’t lost a home opener since 2009 against Toronto FC and they haven’t ever lost a home opener since opening up Children’s Mercy Park (2-0-4). If a team was going to buck that trend it could very well be Dallas. They thoroughly outplayed Sporting the last time these two teams met in KC but they managed to lose 2-0. As much as that would be a great outcome again, Dallas just feels too dangerous.

Prediction: 1-1 Draw

SKC should consider themselves lucky to get a point when they haven’t yet shown an ability to score goals and while playing possibly the best team in MLS. I was wrong last week though, so maybe Sporting gets all three points at home.