Know Your Enemy: Sporting KC
The month of June rolls on as FC Dallas searches for their first win of the summer. This weekend they’ll host their only home game of the month as they welcome Eastern Conference side Sporting Kansas City to town.
Peter Vermes’ club has been off from league play since June 1, a 2-1 loss at Montreal. SKC is currently 6-5-4 on the season and are currently sitting in a three-way tie for third place in the Eastern Conference with Houston and Philadelphia.
Sporting only has one win in their last five matches and just two in their last eight. They have done well so far this season away from home though, going 3-2-2, which is one of the league’s better road records so far.
Last year, in the lone meeting between these two clubs, Sporting won that game 2-1.
Vermes’ side is fairly healthy at the moment. Only a couple players on the questionable side of things as Teal Bunbury is back in action after dealing with knee issues for the last year. Chance Myers and Jacob Peterson have also been dealing with various injuries lately, but both should be good to go for Saturday.
Sporting KC had a few players called into international duty over the last couple of weeks. Graham Zusi and Matt Besler spent time with the US men’s national side while they were in World Cup qualifying.
Soony Saad got a call up for Lebanon during their recent qualifiers with Oman and South Korea. Peterson Joseph and Mechack Jerome saw time with Haiti during a couple of friendlies recently. And lastly, Kei Kamara spent time in Afriaca with Sierra Leone during their World Cup qualifiers.
All six of these players will be available for Saturday’s game, however.
Blas Perez vs Matt Besler – This was a matchup many US fans expected to see in Seattle last week during World Cup qualifying, but Perez caught a stomach bug and had to miss Panama’s game against the US. We should get to see this matchup this weekend in Frisco though. Perez will want to see if Besler has any gas left in the tank after dealing with a tough Honduran side on Tuesday in Salt Lake.
Graham Zusi vs London Woodberry/Zach Loyd – Woodberry is a potential replacement this weekend for the suspended Jair Benitez. If he starts in the back on the flanks, there will be times that he will have to deal with Zusi, one of the league’s best attacking players. Keeping his touches limited will be key for Woodberry or Loyd. The more space Zusi has to set up the attack, the more dangerous he will be.
Key Player for Sporting KC
Graham Zusi – No word yet on if he will start this game or come off the bench for Vermes but the US international was very good during World Cup qualifying. If he can translate some of that over to the MLS game like we’ve seen out of him in the past, Sporting KC will be very tough to beat offensively. He is one of the best in the league at setting up the attack, finding players in space and being an overall pain to deal with defensively.
Vermes uses a 4-3-3 set up for his formation, something very similar to what Dallas saw a week ago in their loss at Portland.
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
The last few weeks have been up and down for Sporting. One week they look like a championship contending team and then the next they drop a game at home to a team that they probably have no business losing to.
The thing about this group coming into Frisco on Saturday is that they are healthy and with Besler, Kamara and Zusi potentially back in the lineup, Sporting may have their top lineup choice for the first time in a month and a half.
Vermes loves to utilize heavy pressure from the forwards up the field to create problems for the other team. Defensively they are a sound team with the likes of Besler and Aurelien Collin in the middle of the field.
Dallas will want to spread this Sporting squad out though on Saturday. Anytime Dallas can attack from the wings, it will put pressure on the back line of Sporting, similarly to how it did at times last week against Portland.
Schellas Hyndman will want his team to control the middle of the field with Michel and Andrew Jacobson. Also, limiting what Zusi and Kamara can do offensively will be key for those in the back while Matt Hedges and George John will have to contend with keeping Claudio Bieler at bay.
Seeing how this is the only home game of the month for Dallas must find a way to play a complete game and force Sporting to chase the game. Lastly, Dallas will need to maximize their set pieces as much as possible with Kenny Cooper and Perez back on the field.