Sporting KC v FC Dallas (#SKCvFCD)
Saturday, July 28, 2018 at 8:00 PM CT
How to Watch: ESPN
First place in the Western Conference isn’t even on the line when FC Dallas travel to Children’s Mercy Park to face Sporting Kansas City. Due to a terrible run of form from KC, including losing three of their last four (league games) and having only two wins dating back to the 10th of May (2-3-4), Kansas City are a full six points out of first place. Dallas are at the top of the table with 39 points to SKC’s third place spot with 33 points.
But this is a home game people! Sporting KC are quite good at home (6-1-3 — including going without a loss in the last nine home games), plus they beat FC Dallas at home in the US Open Cup behind a beautiful Yohan Croizet goal against most of Dallas’ starters. If we go with all competitions, Sporting KC are 8-0-2 against FC Dallas in their last 10 home meetings where they have scored an astonishing 26 goals while allowing only seven.
All that said, Dallas are no slouches on the road going 4-3-2 which is good for the league’s fifth best road record (SKC are 8th best at home). Those three losses are all the team has for the entire season (which is the best in the league).
Everything isn’t peachy though with Sporting having allowed at least two goals in five consecutive games. They went from the league’s best defense before this run averaging just 1.0 goals per game down to the eighth best defense (1.35). Dallas are currently third best in defense with just 1.15 goals allowed per game. Outside that number, Sporting leads Dallas in most other per game statistical categories: goals scored, shots, SOG, passing accuracy, possession and shots faced.
Dallas’ Roster Changes
This is actually the first meeting between FC Dallas and Sporting KC in regular season play, so we haven’t updated the roster since 2017. That said, the biggest news has come in the last few weeks.
Mauro Diaz, the man that makes the midfield tick and leads the team in assists, was transferred to Shabab Al-Ahli Dubai FC of the UAE Arabian Gulf League on July 3rd. Dallas are 2-1-1 since then and were 6-1-2 in the stretch before that. The other move was the trade of Kellyn Acosta to the Colorado Rapids for striker Dominique Badji. Acosta was having an off year and Badji is actually playing pretty well (seven goals and two assists).
In the last few days Dallas also added a potential Diaz replacement in Pablo Aranguiz. He is from Chilean first division side Unión Española, the same team FCD got Diaz from. He is a TAM level signing. Also during the summer window Dallas added Marquinhos Pedroso who is a replacement for offseason signing Anton Nedyalkov who already left the club. The team has also added five more Homegrowns in 2018.
Other offseason losses that you’ve no doubt heard about by now are star center back Walker Zimmerman (traded to LAFC), GK Chris Seitz, defenders Hernan Grana, Walker Hume and Atiba Harris. They also declined the option on veteran midfielder Javier Morales.
OUT: Jimmy Medranda (bone bruise in leg), Khiry Shelton (knee surgery), Brad Evans (Achilles)
QUESTIONABLE: Cristian Lobato (knee) — per Peter Vermes via Thad Bell
QUESTIONABLE: Santiago Mosquera (hamstring injury)
Sporting KC - None (Roger Espinoza suspended next yellow card)
Dallas - None
Goals: Johnny Russell (7), Daniel Salloi (6), Felipe Gutierrez (5) Diego Rubio, Ilie Sanchez (3), Cristian Lobato, Jimmy Medranda, Graham Zusi, Khiry Shelton (2)
Assists: Roger Espinoza (8), Daniel Salloi, Johnny Russell (6), Ilie Sanchez, Graham Zusi (3), Khiry Shelton, Gerso, Yohan Croizet, Diego Rubio (2)
Goals: Roland Lamah (7), Maxi Urruti (6), Reto Ziegler (3),
Mauro Diaz, Tesho Akindele, Christian Colman, Carlos Gruezo (2)
Mauro Diaz (8), Santiago Mosquera (5), Roland Lamah (4), Ryan Hollingshead (3), Kellyn Acosta, Maxi Urruti (2)
Sporting KC - W/L/L/D/L (4 points)
Dallas - W/W/L/W/D (10 points)
Starting XI Predictions
The big questions for this game are will Felipe Gutierrez start, who plays center forward and are the center backs healthy?
I’d guess that Gutierrez will start. There is no way he’s 90 minutes fit but he gives the team the best chance of winning if he’s in the midfield. Let’s just hope, unlike every other starter, Vermes takes it easy with Gutierrez.
As for center forward, I think I’ve made it abundantly clear I think Diego Rubio should start. If he actually does, then I think that goes a long way towards showing Vermes is willing to change (and doesn’t think Rubio quit against the Dynamo). If he is just in the 18 and goes unused again, all signs would point towards Rubio being perpetually in the dog house. My gut tells me Salloi will start, but that’s not what I want so I won’t predict it.
Salloi belongs on the wing with Russell opposite him. If he slides to the middle then we could even see the awful Yohan Croizet at winger experiment again (though Gerso is clearly better in that role). I only want to see Yohan as a sub for Gutierrez. I’m open to him getting some center forward minutes (and wouldn’t that be a shock if he started there), but he really shouldn’t start anywhere.
As for center backs, we’ll know better when the official injury report is out, but let’s all cross our fingers that Ike Opara and Matt Besler are healthy because this is a different team when they are.
The only other question is left back. Lobato has apparently been practicing (though I’d be stunned if he started). Jaylin Lindsey had fallen off a bit for me, but now that he’s gotten some rest he’s probably the guy. Though trusty Seth Sinovic is always around waiting to slide in again.
Outside of a healthy Jimmy Medranda and a DP #9, this may be the best possible lineup SKC could put out period.
Rest of the 18: Zendejas, Sinovic, Croizet, Smith, Kuzain, Gerso, Lobato
[The fan vote is once again 100% in agreement with me. Weird. Here are the top players in votes who aren’t starters: Seth Sinovic (24.1%), Yohan Croizet (24.1%), Gerso (24.1%), Kharlton Belmar (14.8%) and that’s it. Nothing else is even close. For the first time all season, multiple players got 100% of the vote in their category: Melia, Espinoza, Ilie and Salloi. Imagine if everyone knew for sure Ike and Besler were healthy and Russell wasn’t exhausted (cause that has to be why he’s not at 100%).]
Is it too early for a must-win game? I don’t think so. If Sporting want to make a run at the West (which they may just want to ensure a top four spot and a home playoff game) then they can’t lost to Dallas. It’d be a six point swing. A draw wouldn’t kill them, but this is a chance to make up three points. Dallas have finally played the same number of games as KC. They had games in hand for months and they cashed them in.
On top of all that, Sporting need to right the ship. They are obviously in terrible form but there is something about a home game. 10-days of rest (and preparation) better not go wasted.