Sporting KC v FC Dallas (#SKCvFCD)
Saturday, August 19, 2017 at 7:30 PM CT
Fox Sporting KC+ | fuboTV (free trial) | MLS Live
Saturday will mark the 100th straight sellout at
Sporting Park Children’s Mercy Park. It will also mark the fourth time these two clubs have met in 2017 across all competitions. Over the prior three meetings the teams have played to a balanced 1-1-1 record, with the first match being a draw at CMP, Dallas winning on the road and Sporting Kansas City winning a thriller in the US Open Cup quarterfinals just over a month ago.
Much has changed for each club since that Open Cup match. Sporting KC have since won again and will be playing the New York Red Bulls on September 20th for a chance to lift their fourth trophy in six years. Dom Dwyer, Sporting KC’s second all-time scorer, was traded away to Orlando City. And both teams are in a bit of a slump. KC lost for the first time in 13 matches last weekend to the Seattle Sounders and Dallas has lost twice since then, including once at home where they are notoriously hard to beat.
Speaking of hard to beat at home, Sporting KC are in the midst of a 14+ month home unbeaten streak that stretches over 21 games. Being at home has been very important for these clubs, specifically when playing one another, as over the last 13 meetings (all competitions) the home side is 9-0-4. In fact, FC Dallas haven’t won in KC since the first time they played at CMP in 2011. They have gone 0-6-2 since that game.
Coming into Saturday’s game Sporting Kansas City leads the league in two important categories for the way they play. First, they are first in passing accuracy (83.2 percent) compared to Dallas who are 13th with 78.1 percent. SKC rely on having and keeping the ball to both build up to their goals and to simply prevent the other team from getting on the attack (they are second in possession with 56.7 percent).
Sporting are also first in goals allowed per game at 0.79. For comparison, Dallas is third in the league at 1.18 goals allowed. Despite that awesome goals against average, Kansas City haven’t shut out a team since they went to San Jose and shut out the Earthquakes on June 18th. That will have been over two months without a shut out (in league play only). There are plenty of reasons with injuries on the back line, international call ups and tons of games packed close together, but Sporting KC have to be more stout defensively since they don’t appear to have the ability to score lots of goals (they average 1.21 per game, which is 18th in the league).
OUT: Cameron Porter (broken fibula and ligament damage in right ankle)
Sporting KC - None
Dallas - None
Sporting KC - Last Five: D/D/W/D/L (6 Points)
Dallas - Last Five: W/W/L/L/D (7 Points)
- Sporting KC: Gerso Fernandes (6),
Dom Dwyer, Benny Feilhaber (5), Latif Blessing (3), Daniel Salloi, Ike Opara (2)
- Dallas: Maximiliano Urruti (11), Roland Lamah (8), Kellyn Acosta (3)
Starting XI Predictions
After last weekends heavy squad rotation that saw half the back line rested, an entirely different midfield and Soony Saad start at center forward, expect Sporting KC to return to more of a “normal” lineup. It’s still not 100% clear what that means after Dwyer’s trade, but with a week to rest the first team guys should be back.
In the midfield, that’s clearly Ilie Sanchez, Benny Feilhaber and Roger Espinoza. On the back line that means Seth Sinovic, Matt Besler, Ike Opara and Graham Zusi. Up front, it’s less clear. Diego Rubio seems like the best center forward on the roster but he’s still working his way back to fitness after an ACL tear. Latif Blessing has cemented himself as a starter, despite his very young age, due to his tireless work rate and positional flexibility.
That leaves just one spot up in the air. Gerso has been the man on the right wing all year. He leads the team in goals, but he has looked very out of form since picking up his shoulder injury and especially since getting suspended. He joined the club in the offseason but previously played in a league that had the opposite schedule as MLS. Essentially he’s played 13-14 months straight. While I’m not sure he will get rested, he really needs a rest.
If he goes to the bench that paves the way for Daniel Salloi to start on the left and Blessing to slide out right. Salloi has looked lost at times but has also looked fantastic when he has a chance to combine with players like Feilhaber and Rubio. Getting them all on the pitch together and further up the field feels like the best thing to do.
Rest of the 18: Dykstra, Mustivar, Gerso, Lobato, Abdul-Salaam, Palmer-Brown, Musa
[When looking at the fan vote, which I don’t do until I pick my own lineup, you guys voted exactly like I’ve lined it up. Gerso lost out to Salloi by just three votes at press time but all the other positions were a wipe out.]
Now that Sporting have secured their spot in the US Open Cup Finals, they need to turn their attention for the next month to league play. They basically played a bunch of backups last weekend and hoped to pull out a road draw but instead lost for the first time in a while. It’s time to get serious as their playoff position is tenuous at best.
SKC current sit in a three-way tie for first place, but based on the first tie-breaker of wins, they are in third. FC Dallas have two less points in the standings (with two games in hand) and are in fourth. When the season started, the goal seemed to be to finish at least in the top four to ensure a home playoff game instead of these one and done road games of the last three seasons. Their lead over fifth place Portland is just three points. Dropping points at home is no longer acceptable.
With the team rested and ready, I expect Sporting KC to find a way. They are catching Dallas at the right time. They have not won in three straight games with losses to Vancouver and Philadelphia and a draw against Colorado. Two of those three games they had a goal taken off the board because of Video Assistant Referee (VAR). SKC must find a way, with or without VAR taking goals, to get all three points.
Prediction: 1-0 Sporting KC Win
If Sporting can’t pull it out, the cries of a late season collapse will start to creep up. While FC Dallas are in a slump, they are a really good team. That won’t stop fans from decrying the Dwyer trade or missing out on signing Krisztian Nemeth.