We're just under an hour from kick between FC Dallas and Sporting KC and lineups have been announced, so let's dive into some key notes on tonight's Starting XI:
From last week's season opener in LA, only four starters remain in the lineup for tonight's match: Maynor Figueroa, Matt Hedges, Carlos Gruezo and Cristian Colman. Seven new faces will make their first starts of the season, two of whom will make their MLS debuts (more on that shortly).
With Wednesday's CCL Semifinal against Pachuca looming, Oscar Pareja has elected to rest some of his key starters - although they do remain eligible off the bench. This turnover became even more necessary after Friday night's news that all Liga MX games this weekend were postponed because of a referee strike, meaning that Pachuca will not play and will come to Frisco well rested ahead of Leg One.
Homegrown Paxton Pomykal and 2017 SuperDraft pick Jacori Hayes will make their MLS debuts and first starts tonight after strong showings during preseason. Pomykal, 17, made his professional debut 10 days ago in Panama coming on as a late sub in CCL play, but will make his first professional start. At 17 years and 84 days old, he will also become the youngest player to start a match in FC Dallas history, surpassing Alex Zendejas' and Eddie Johnson's tied record (both 17 years, 126 days).
Hayes, the 18th Overall pick at this year's draft, has yet to appear in a competitive match for Dallas, but played a heavy load of matches during the team's preseason trip to Argentina. It will also be the first start for Carlos Cermeno, who made his MLS debut in last week's win over LA.
Facing a dangerous Sporting KC side that likes to attack through the middle and playing in Children's Mercy Park, where Dallas has been outscored 15-3 in their last four matches, Pareja plans to shut down the middle of the park. Gruezo, Cermeno and Hayes - all defensive midfielders - will clog the middle, while Tesho Akindele and Pomykal on the wings look to combine with Colman up top.
The Captain, Matt Hedges, will anchor the back line at center back alongside Maynor Figueroa, playing in his secondary position in the middle. Homegrown Aaron Guillen will play left back, where he also started in Panama 10 days ago, with Atiba Harris starting at right back for the the first time this season. Homegrown Jesse Gonzalez will make his first start of the season in goal.
The Return of No. 19
Since the untimely passing of Bobby Rhine in September 2011, his iconic No. 19 has remained dormant in the FC Dallas lineup. Tonight, Paxton Pomykal will become the first player to wear No. 19 in an MLS match since, and will do so in the same building where Rhine's last game as a broadcaster was called. This will officially marking the start of a new Homegrown tradition for the number, which you can read more on here.
Kickoff is set for 8 PM and you can tune in on TXA 21, FCDallas.com/Live (DFW only) or on 100.7 FM (English) and 1270 AM (Spanish)