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Behind Enemy Lines: Scouting Sporting Kansas City

FC Dallas heads to Kansas City after a fantastic road win in L.A. Can they get another?

MLS: FC Dallas at Sporting KC Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

FC Dallas heads to Kansas City after a fantastic road win in L.A. Can they get another?

Sporting Glass Cannon

Sporting Kansas City had an interesting start to the season, a 0-0 draw that really could have gone either way. At times SKC’s defending was by the skin of their teeth. Kansas City’s first game was really a poor defensive showing, that thanks to Tim Melia and some goal line clearances ended in a clean sheet. Towards the end of the game SKC began to show some promise in the attacking third, but ultimately it wasn’t enough to win in D.C.

Potential Line-up

SKC has made some signings in the off-season, grabbing winger Gerso and Spanish midfielder Ilie Sanchez They’ve also done some restructuring, moving Graham Zusi into defense, and Jimmy Medranda forward.

GK: Tim Melia; LB: Seth Sinovic; CB: Ike Opara, Matt Besler; RB: Graham Zusi; CM: Benny Feilhaber, Ilie Sanchez, Roger Espinoza; LW: Gerso Fernandes; RW: Jimmy Medranda; ST: Dom Dwyer.

Key Matchup

Kellyn Acosta Vs. Ilie Sanchez

This is going to be an interesting matchup. Kellyn Acosta is on fire right now and seems to have finally found a way to bridge the gap going forward. Last season he was a poor Diaz replacement, this year he has become a much bigger threat pushing forward.

Sanchez is tasked with stopping that as the main defensive midfielder for SKC. Very much an unknown in MLS, Sanchez has European experience, including in Barcelona’s academy La Masia. His ability to slow down Acosta will be a true test at the start of his MLS career. He didn’t do enough to shield the back four last week against D.C. and Dallas will be a much tougher opponent.

Three Keys to the Match

Long Shots

Though they were ultimately unsuccessful last week, SKC took nine of their 15 shots from outside the box, and four more from wide areas, not a sign of a clicking offense. SKC need to find a way to penetrate and create solid chances. For Dallas it is important to close down on the edge of the box and keep SKC from scoring one of those speculative shots.

Wing Play

Dallas wing play against LA was dominant, and while no crosses led to goals (mostly thanks to Jelle Van Damme) it is going to be a big worry for SKC, who struggled there against D.C. If SKC don’t find a defensive structure, Dallas can punish them out wide. On the other side, Gerso and Medranda had dangerous moments against D.C.. Those two can make trouble if they can find Dom Dwyer.

Set Pieces

SKC had some awful moments defending on set pieces. Dallas quality in the air could be a real problem for them. Chaos in the box is what Matt Hedges and Walker Zimmerman thrive on. Dallas will want to be aware of Benny Feilhaber and avoid dangerous free kicks. He almost scored against D.C. and if given the opportunity, he and Roger Espinoza can be lethal.