Sporting KC v FC Dallas (#SKCvFCD)
Saturday, June 16, 2018 at 8:00 PM CT
USsoccer.com | SportingKC.com
Saturday’s Round of 16 matchup between Sporting Kansas City and FC Dallas marks a rematch of possibly the most exciting US Open Cup game I’ve ever seen. In 2017 the game ended 3-0, but the scoreline doesn’t tell the story.
In the 15th minute Seth Sinovic was sent off with a red card for DOGSO (denial of an obvious goal scoring opportunity) from about as far away from the goal as I can recall. From there, Sporting KC were forced to be defensive and fend off a strong attacking Dallas team. Dallas would hold 62.2% of all possession and really come after Kansas City.
Somehow SKC would hold on until extra time (no ties in the Open Cup) when they would bring on Benny Feilhaber for a late surge and attempt to hold on for 30 more minutes to get to PKs. Instead, in the 101st minute Maxi Urruti would accidently bicycle kick Ike Opara in the head in a very scary moment. Ike would leave on a stretcher and Urruti would get his second yellow card and therefore a red card.
In stoppage time of the first ET period Feilhaber would make that difference making an interception and eventually assisting Latif Blessing on the game winning goal. In the 10 versus 10 madness, Blessing would add a second (still in that stoppage time) and Daniel Salloi added a third in the 118th minute (relive the madness and excitement below). Feilhaber and Blessing are gone, but the rematch will go down Saturday.
This was also the first game since co-owner Neal Patterson had passed away and some said it was like Sporting were never down a man with Patterson on the field in spirit.
Even though this isn’t an MLS game, Dallas and Kansas City come into the game sitting tied atop the Western Conference table with 29 points each (though Dallas has one fewer loss and a game in hand). The teams have met three times in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup with KC winning all three prior matches. The 3-0 victory last year. A 6-2 victory (with four Dom Dwyer goals) in 2015. And a 4-0 win in 2004. All three times, Sporting KC went on to win the entire tournament.
OUT: Felipe Gutierrez (sports hernia surgery), Brad Evans (thigh), Jimmy Medranda (bone bruise in leg), Matt Besler (hamstring)
QUESTIONABLE: Khiry Shelton (thigh), Yohan Croizet (hamstring), Seth Sinovic (hamstring), Gianuca Busio (hamstring), Cristian Lobato (knee)
OUT: Kris Reaves (sports hernia surgery), Anton Nedyalkov (broken collarbone)
Starting XI Predictions
The last time Sporting KC played an Open Cup game (all the way back to last Wednesday) they were in the middle of some hardcore schedule congestion playing three games in seven days. They’ll have been off a week since tying Portland on the road and should have the option to field a first choice lineup, depending heavily on injuries.
Matt Besler’s hamstring injury isn’t serious, but he’s been held out of practice this week. Croizet, Shelton and Evans have all returned to training. Sinovic, Gutierrez working on side. Medranda out. #SportingKC— Sam McDowell (@SamMcDowell11) June 14, 2018
Also in the last Open Cup game they played a 5-3-1-1 (or a 5-4-1 or a 3-5-1-1.. who knows) but that was on the road. At home that strikes me as too defensive.
Khiry Shelton was a full go in practice by the end of last week and simply hadn’t travelled with the team. Sporting KC have only lost once with him in the starting lineup and while I don’t know that he deserves all the credit for that, Vermes seems to heap it on him. Daniel Salloi has played well at center forward, but he disappeared a bit against a much better Portland Timbers team. Shelton likely starts. That should allow Salloi and Russell to return to their wing position homes (I personally don’t know that I’d play Shelton, but I assume Vermes will).
With Medranda out, Sinovic questionable and the fact that Dallas scored Seth last year for a red, there will be a different starting fullback. Jaylin Lindsey filled in after Seth went down and got the start against Portland. Considering he’s playing out of position, he’s done well and seems more likely to start than the defensively inconsistent Cristian Lobato. The question then becomes will Besler play? He missed last year’s Open Cup game against Dallas too, leaving Erik Palmer-Brown and Kevin Ellis to fend off FCD once Opara went down. If Besler isn’t practicing, risking playing him seems unnecessary since Emiliano Amor was brought in for just these occasions. Zusi and Opara round out the back line.
That just leaves the midfield. Roger Espinoza and Ilie Sanchez are no-brainers. The question becomes, even if he’s healthy, do you risk Yohan Croizet’s turnover tendencies against a fast Dallas team that will make you pay on the counter, or play it safe with 19-year-old Kuzain again playing out of position knowing he’ll protect the ball? I say Kuzain starts, Croizet comes on if the offensive spark is needed.
The other issue is do you give Adrian Zendejas another start after his win or put Melia back in. Since Sporting KC take the US Open Cup so serious, I think you have to put out your first choice keeper.
There are of course rules about international players but with Gutierrez out there are only five potentially healthy players unless and loan were to occur from the Swope Park Rangers, though that seems unlikely.
Rest of the 18: Zendejas, Rubio, Gerso, Belmar, Croizet, Didic, Lobato
[The fan vote is less conclusive about the starters playing. Melia won, but Zendejas got 34.8% of the vote. The backline also matches mine, but Besler still pulled 27.3% of the vote. The midfield is a 100% match too. Where things really change are at forward. Russell, Gerso and Salloi got the most votes, assumingly Salloi at CF with Russell on the right and Gerso on the left. Belmar and Rubio also deservedly got north of 30% of the vote. Shelton came in 6th with 21.2%. I do hope Vermes mixes it up. I never want SKC to be eliminated, but if they win, there will be a ton of schedule congestion in their future.]
With Dallas also having a week of rest and virtual no injuries, they should be capable of putting out a first choice lineup. They’ve won the US Open Cup twice in the past and generally take the tournament seriously. They are a very capable team and are in good form as of late.
Then again, Sporting KC just seem to find a way at home. If this goes to penalty kicks, despite historic success, Dallas seems better positioned to handle that. But again... Children’s Mercy Park. I hate predictions.