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Behind Enemy Lines: Scouting Sporting Kansas City

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Sporting continues to be the dominant defense in MLS.

MLS: Sporting KC at Seattle Sounders FC Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

FC Dallas head to Kansas City in a rematch from last month’s Open Cup game. Hopefully this one turns out better.

Battle for the West

With the West slipping out of Supporters’ Shield contention, it seems the only thing really left to play for is playoff position. FCD and Sporting Kansas City are both contenders for top of the West and could easily be one and two come October.

This will very much be a battle to help decide home field advantage. Both sides boast a solid defense and decent home record and both have had a rough few weeks, with SKC enjoying several draws and a loss to Seattle and Dallas failing to score more often than not.

Potential Lineup

No serious injuries for either side means both teams can field full strength line-ups.

GK: Tim Melia; LB: Jimmy Medranda; CB: Ike Opara, Matt Besler; RB: Graham Zusi; CM: Benny Feilhaber, Ilie Sanchez, Roger Espinoza; RW: Gerso Fernandes; LW: Latif Blessing; FW: Diego Rubio.

Key Matchup

Latif Blessing vs. Hernan Grana. Dallas’ right side will be something to look out for this week. Grana’s constant bombing forward could leave Dallas caught out on the counter and Latif Blessing, as was shown in the Open Cup, can be very dangerous. SKC will want to watch Grana though, as his getting forward leads to chances for Dallas. Blessing and Grana can’t be ignored. The two of them facing off should be interesting to watch.

Three Keys for Victory

Defense.

Both of these teams have built from the back this year. SKC has the best defense in the league (19 goals given up so far) and Dallas has been in the same conversation all season, so expect a slow chess match of a game as both teams feel each other out.

Corners.

Dallas has been woeful on corners this year and with the defending in SKC being as good as it is, this will be a big area where Dallas needs to improve. Dallas will get corners, but if they continue to do nothing with them they will waste great opportunities to score on a stout defensive unit.

A Dirty Playoff Feel.

Last time these two met in the Open Cup, Kansas played dirty and Dallas fought back. It was a mean angry game between two tough teams and I expect the same this weekend. Expect fouls, expect it to get chippy, and be ready to see Blessing flop a few times. This game is a big six-pointer for the West and it will feel like it.