FRISCO — Following its victory over San Antonio FC in the fourth round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, FC Dallas now sets its sights on Sporting Kansas City for a Round of 16 matchup. Saturday will be the first time the two teams will meet this season.
Children’s Mercy Park
Sporting KC has had success at home, and many opponents have struggled playing at Children’s Mercy Park, including FC Dallas. FCD hasn’t won in Sporting’s territory since 2011 and were eliminated on the road in Kansas City in last year’s U.S. Open Cup. Sporting is 5-1-2 at home this season in MLS play while FCD boasts a 3-1-1 road record.
This matchup is both teams’ only game of the week with a break from MLS play. Both teams will have a normal week of preparation as if it was any other game. This means it is more likely both teams will play a more experienced lineup for this game since there are no other matches for either team during the week. Last week, both teams played its Open Cup matches in the middle of the week in what was the first of two games within a span of a few days.
Matt Hedges vs. Johnny Russell — Russell leads Sporting in goals scored this season with five and scored one of two goals in his team’s last U.S. Open Cup matchup with Real Salt Lake. He can make defenders pay with his shot and pass. The forward has three assists on the season and also set up Kharlton Belmar against RSL last week. Hedges was a part of the backline which shut out San Antonio FC in Dallas’ last Open Cup match and will look to do the same again against Sporting KC.
Kellyn Acosta vs. Ilie Sanchez — The two men in the middle for both teams will be crucial on Saturday for their clubs. At the center of the pitch, both players have a box-to-box responsibility, and the midfield position could be where the game is decided. Both players like to press high in their formations and will likely mark each other throughout the game.
Projected Starting XI
Sporting KC (4-3-3): Lindsey, Besler, Opara, Zusi, Wan Kuzain, Sánchez, Espinoza, Fernandes, Sallói, Russell
Keys To Three Points
FC Dallas has a tough task at hand on Saturday. Sporting KC is tied with FCD for first place in the Western Conference, and Dallas’ history on the road in Kansas City doesn’t help. However, FCD managed to put two goals past Montreal last weekend and the defense put up another clean sheet. The defense has always been there for Dallas, especially in big time moments. The question is how clinical the front of the formation can be. Sporting can make teams pay for their mistakes, so FCD will have to be at its sharpest in order to escape the Midwest with all three points.