As I’m sure you’ve heard, this week we are (in the words of Willie Nelson) on the road. Again. Traveling north to face Sporting Kansas City where today there’s a heat advisory and it’s almost as hot as Dallas. However, thankfully, it’s supposed to rain on Saturday, so the highs are predicted to drop into the 80s for this week’s match. That’s the good news.
The not-so-good news is that Sporting enters the match with a record of 9W-3D-3L (+11 goal differential), which is good for 30 points and 2nd in the Western Conference. Oh, and last week they knocked off Seattle. In Seattle. So... y’know... they’re confident.
Recent Results (SKC)
The win in Seattle, of course, is no fluke. SKC has four wins and a draw in their last five. And the four wins came against the other four top teams in the West.
Sigh... let’s look at something else.
|6491 (1st)||Passes Completed||5927 (5th)|
|3341 (3rd)||Passes in Opponents’ Half||2409|
|243 (1st)/85||Shots/Shots on Target||194/67|
|-.54 (Melia)||G-xG for Keepers||1.72 (Maurer)|
The scary part first – Peter Vermes’ side is averaging just shy of two goals per game. We average just over one (thanks to some help from Ricardo Pepi last week - let’s keep that going). And the passing... Kansas City holds on to the ball and moves it around the field better than anyone else in the league. The offense has been excellent and has depth to manage unavailable players. Expect the FC Dallas defense to be under duress this weekend. We need Jimmy to be ‘the Wall’ and the fullbacks will have their hands full.
Defensively, Sporting’s numbers are good (better than ours) but not excellent. Tim Melia has been solid, but if Dallas can keep the ball away from SKC, we should have opportunities against their back line.
In good news, Mexican international Alan Pulido will be unavailable for this match and Gianluca Busio seems to be on his way to join Tanner Tessmann in Serie A. However, while SKC may be missing nine goals and three assists for their most recent match, they still knocked off Seattle.
Daniel Salloi, however, will be in the starting eleven. While fans are likely familiar with the winger’s name, his numbers in the last two seasons have been meager. It’s fair to say no one expected him to have the season he’s having – but he’s being mentioned in the early MVP discussion. He’s scoring important goals for Peter Vermes & Co.
Nicolas Isimat-Mirin – The 29-year-old French center-back arrives from Besiktas. He has five appearances on the season and has started the last couple of matches.
Remi Walter – Another Frenchman arriving via the Turkish league, Walter has 11 appearances and 7 starts on the season.
Cam Duke – the young homegrown seems poised to take the lion’s share of minutes that Gianluca Busio’s departure creates. He scored his first goal against Seattle off an assist from Graham Zusi. He’s got speed and he moves off the ball.
Keys to the Match:
1) Maintain possession: While SKC has been the best in the league at holding on to the ball, Dallas has been good as well. If we can keep the ball away from their frontline, that certainly helps Maurer and Co.
2) Play with confidence. Dallas just won a match 4-0. Yes, we’ve been terrible on the road. Yes, Sporting is atop the weekly Power Rankings. Yes, we are without Andres Ricaurte because of yellow card accumulation. But the San Jose match almost got away from Sporting, so we know they’re not unbeatable. I’d be happy to see Paxton Pomykal slide into the #8 position. If Jader Obrian feels confident after his goal last week, terrific. If not, I’m happy to see Ema Twumasi on the right with the rest of the line-up unchanged. Give me Pepi, Szabolcs Schon, and Jesus Ferreira at the front. Play on the front foot.
3) It’s my understanding that Pepi has 7 of our last 10 goals. We need other players to be goal dangerous - he can carry the squad against a depleted Galaxy team, but SKC is a different animal. Vermes will not be caught napping on our starlet. We need others to be scorers, too.
OUT: Alan Pulido (international duty), Gianluca Busio (international duty), Felipe Hernandez (personal reasons)
Line Up Prediction: 4-3-3
Daniel Salloi – Khiry Shelton – Johnny Russell
Gabi Kinda – Remi Walters – Roger Espinoza
Luis Martins – Andreu Fontas – Nicolas Isimat-Mirin – Graham Zusi