Sporting KC has been off in league play since a June 1st loss to the Montreal Impact. Sporting lost that match 2-1 and were also outed at home in the US Open Cup by their USL-Pro affiliate Orlando City last week.
Peter Vermes' club comes into this match with only one win in their last five and just two wins in their last eight games. Most of that struggle is due to a lineup juggle that has had to go on with national team call ups and injuries. But going into this game Vermes should have a fairly healthy squad to pick from.
FC Dallas Notes:
Foul watch. Even though David Ferreira missed two and a half games in May, he still tops the league charts in fouls suffered with 44. FC Dallas is 9-1-5 at home with Ferreira in the lineup since he return from his injury last June. Overall since that time the club is 14-6-11. Sporting KC is currently second in the league with fouls committed. They average nearly 15 fouls a game.
Assist men. Michel and Ferreira both still have four assists a piece, which puts them in a tie with 13 other players in the league for third. Three of Ferreira's assists have ended up as game-winners, which is tops in the league.
Scouting Sporting KC:
This Sporting team is tough to evaluate at the moment. On one hand you know they're good with the likes of Graham Zusi, Kei Kamara, Benny Feilhaber, Claudio Beiler, Matt Besler and Jimmy Neilsen on the pitch. But the thing is the last few weeks we haven't seen all of those players on the pitch together at the same time. Injuries and call-ups have torn holes in the roster at times, which could be why they've stumbled into a tie for third place in the East with Philadelphia and Houston.
That being said, this team is still good. The quality is there around the pitch and you know Vermes loves to have his team pressure the ball. Where they can be dangerous is on the flanks with Zusi and Kamara along with the way that they clog up the middle of the park.
Kansas City is still also very stout defensively. Just 13 goals scored on them this season with only three of those coming from a set piece. They score a lot of their goals in the open play and thanks to the high pressure that their attackers create. All but one of their goals this season came from within the penalty box as well. Which means they love to get those second chance shots. Beiler leads the way with seven goals on the season, Dallas will have to limit what he does on the ball and away from the ball.
How Sporting will line up is pretty straight forward. Vermes likes to use a 4-3-3 formation, something FC Dallas should be fairly familiar with after playing Portland a week ago.
Goalkeeper: Jimmy Nielsen; RB: Mechack Jerome; CB: Matt Besler, Aurelien Collin; LB: Seth Sinovic; RM: Paulo Nagamura; CM: Oriol Rosell; LM: Benny Feilhaber; RW: Kei Kamara; LW: Graham Zusi; FW: Claudio Beiler
Keys to three points:
Contain the pressure. Sporting loves to put numbers forward, that we know. But where Dallas can be successful is by containing those numbers and not allowing guys like Kamara and Zusi to get in behind the defense any. If Dallas can catch Sporting on counter attacks as well, they should see plenty of success.
Hold their own in the middle. It will be a big day for Michel and Andrew Jacobson. Or even Je-Vaughn Watson should Schellas Hyndman opt to put Michel at left back for the suspended Jair Benitez. Either way, those two in the middle will need to control the space and limit what Sporting is able to do on the ball. They need to clog the passing lanes and win the arial battles. Anything to keep the pressure off Ferreira in the middle given the way that Sporting loves to foul you.
Go wide. I repeat this each week but I always mean it. If Dallas spreads out Sporting tomorrow night and works the ball through guys like Jackson on the wings, they'll find their chances and be highly successful in the attack.
This won't be an easy one for Dallas. Sporting has the talent and ability to make things real difficult for Dallas. That being said, I feel a lot better about this game than I did a few weeks back. Sporting has been struggling both in and out of league play and they'll have to find a way to get Zusi and Besler back in the lineup without disrupting anything. Getting both Perez and Cooper back for this one should be enough in my book as it means Fabian Castillo can come off the bench late and be more of a pain for 20-25 minutes rather than burn out around the 65th minute like we've seen in games that he starts.
It will be tight but I think three points happen.
Dallas 2, Sporting 1