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Sporting KC v FC Dallas: Preview, Predictions, Starting XI, Stats, Injuries

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The playoff push becomes real on Saturday.

MLS: Sporting KC at FC Dallas Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Sporting KC v FC Dallas (#SKCvFCD)

When: Saturday, July 20, 2019 at 7:30 PM CT

Where: Children’s Mercy Park

How to Watch/Stream: Fox Sports Kansas City Plus | Fox Sports Midwest Plus | Fox Sports Go | ESPN+
How to Listen: Sports Radio 810 WHB | ESPN Deportes KC 1480 AM

Over the last two games things are finally starting to click for Sporting Kansas City. They’ve won two in a row (albeit against subpar competition) and they’ll look to make it three as Dallas comes to town on Saturday.

FC Dallas currently sit in the 7th and final playoff spot with 29 points through 21 games. Sporting KC are just two spots behind with 25 points through just 20 games. Saturday’s match-up is potentially a critical six point swing for SKC who are looking to claw their way back above the red line for the first time since April.

Dallas started off the season hot winning five of their first eight games (5-2-1) before cooling a bit. They’ve lost two of their last three (1-2-0), though by slim 1-0 margins. Their trouble all year has been goalscoring. They’ve only scored more than two goals once and six of their eight losses are by a single goal. They’ve played one more game than KC and scored three less goals and KC just busted out of their scoring slump.

Perhaps most troubling for Dallas (and promising for Sporting) is Dallas’ record on the road. Dallas are just 2-7-1 away from home in 2019. Their two road wins came all the way back at the end of March against Real Salt Lake and nearly the end of April against Atlanta United. Good wins to be sure, but their recent funk could play into SKC’s hands.

Interesting Stats

  • Sporting are averaging 2.10 goals per game at home while Dallas is averaging just 1.10 on the road.
  • Dallas have gone six straight road games without a victory (0-5-1).
  • Over the last eight games both Dallas and KC have just 11 points total.

What’s changed for FC Dallas since 2018?

For Dallas, most of the big names are in the “out” column rather than coming to join the club. They’ve focused heavily on signing academy players and added their 26th Homegrown signing in forward Ricardo Pepi just recently. Also joining the club are Edwin Gyasi who is on loan from CSKA Sofia and made his debut last weekend against Minnesota United. The biggest signing of the offseason was Designated Player midfielder Bryan Acosta via transfer from Tenerife (Spain).

Acosta will be expected to step up even larger as Dallas just sold DP Carlos Gruezo as the secondary transfer window opened. Other losses that could be contributing to the lack of goal scoring are forwards Maxi Urruti, Tesho Akindele and Roland Lamah. Perhaps their biggest loss is defender Chris Richards who never suited up for the first team but is now plying his trade with Bayern Munich over in Germany.

Injuries

Sporting KC

OUT - Jaylin Lindsey (torn meniscus and wrist surgery), Rodney Wallace (hip injury)

QUESTIONABLE - None

*This story was updated to remove Espinoza and Hurtado from the injury report.

Dallas

OUT - John Nelson (abdominal strain)

QUESTIONABLE - None

Suspensions

Sporting KC - Ilie Sanchez [yellow card accumulation] (Benny Feilhaber & Felipe Gutierrez suspended next yellow card)

Dallas - None

Stats

Sporting KC

GOALS - Felipe Gutierrez (8), Krisztian Nemeth, Johnny Russell (7), Gianluca Busio, Yohan Croizet (3), Ilie Sanchez, Gerso (1)

ASSISTS - Johnny Russell, Gerso Fernandes, Ilie Sanchez (4), Roger Espinoza, Graham Zusi, Yohan Croizet, Kelyn Rowe, Felipe Gutierrez, Krisztian Nemeth (2), Benny Feilhaber, Nicolas Hasler (1)

Dallas

GOALS - Jesus Ferreira, Dominique Badji (5), Ryan Hollingshead, Reto Ziegler (3), Michael Barrios, Paxton Pomykal, Bryan Acosta (2), four with one

ASSISTS - Barrios (7), Ferreira (4), Brandon Servania, Jacori Hayes, Badji, Pomykal, Hollingshead (2), five with one

Starting XI Predictions

With two wins in a row the argument could be made not to change a thing. However, that won’t be possible with Ilie Sanchez picking up a yellow card suspension last weekend against the Vancouver Whitecaps. I’ve already dedicated a whole story to who should start for him, so we’ll skip that argument again.

A couple other positions to watch are winger and center forward. Daniel Salloi is still deep in his slump and Johnny Russell has now made two substitute appearances since he went out with an injury. I expect him to start or at least get significantly increased minutes.

The other position in flux is who plays center forward? Yohan Croizet has started two straight games but I expect Dallas to sit in deep and bunker on the road. That would seem to favor Nemeth’s play style since he can function well in tight spaces. That said, Vermes likes to stick with the hot hand and he’ll probably keep running Yohan out for now.

I expect the rest of the lineup to remain the same. One thing to watch though is if Gerso is available after the birth of his first child earlier this week. I expect he’ll play, but you never know.

Rest of the 18: Zendejas, Smith, Medranda, Salloi, Nemeth, Busio, Rowe

Another item to watch will be to see if Andreu Fontas and his million dollar salary again aren’t in the 18. Not sure anyone wants that contract, but it kind of looks like they are selling him when he misses the bench week after week.

Something else to keep an eye on is to see if Roger Espinoza returns to the 18 after coming back to practice. I’d give it another week or so but I wouldn’t be stunned. After Kelyn Rowe scored two goals on Wednesday though, he has to be chomping at the bit for a chance with the first team. He’s a darkhorse to start in the midfield.

Fan Starting XI

The fan vote was exactly the same as my lineup. There is no nuance in the voting to know who you guys want at defensive midfielder (so tell me in the comments). Here is who got the most votes that isn’t a starter: Nemeth (37.8%), Busio (21.4%), Salloi (15.3%) and Hasler (11.2%).

Prediction

This will be a true test. Dallas have been up and down against KC over the years but they absolutely scorched Sporting with their speed (Michael Barrios in particular) at CMP last year. And that was with Ike Opara available in center defense. Statistically SKC will allow a goal. If they want to be playoff contenders they need to win this game. So they are going to have to find a way to score at least a couple goals. We’ll look back on this game as an opportunity lost if SKC don’t win.

2-1 Sporting KC Win

What do you think? Predictions in the comments for both lineups and results are welcome. We can’t quite tell who you voted for in our other poll, so let us know why we are wrong (or right).

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