FRISCO — Two of the top teams in the Western Conference match up this weekend when FC Dallas travels to the midwest to take on Sporting Kansas City. The game pits first place against third at Children's Mercy Park, where FCD has struggled since 2011, posting a record of is 0-8-2. That includes a loss earlier this season when Sporting knocked FCD out of the U.S. Open Cup.
Sporting KC is winless in its last five matches, and has accumulated just one point during that span. Before its winless streak, Sporting was riding a nine-game win streak, including the win over FCD in the Open Cup. Sporting KC was atop the Western Conference the last time these two teams met back on June 16, but it now sits in third place after falling behind both FCD and Los Angeles FC.
A Chance at Redemption
FC Dallas has a chance to get revenge against the team that ended its Open Cup dreams. In a back-and-forth tight game, FCD saw its Open Cup run end off a Yohan Croizet volley late in the game. It was a gut punch that ended up being the deciding factor in the game. This time, FCD is better acclimated with Sporting KC and will be in better form while Sporting is on its worst stretch of the season.
The Hunt Legacy
The two clubs are connected by Lamar Hunt, the founder of Major League Soccer and the Kansas City franchise. Hunt owned the Kansas City Wizards from their inaugural season in 1996 until 2006. He also owned the Dallas Burn/FC Dallas from 2003 to 2006. Since the Hunt family has connections with both Sporting and FC Dallas, a rivalry has always been present between the two sides.
Matt Hedges vs. Dániel Sallói — Sallói scored a brace the last time these two teams met, so eyes will be on him at all times in the final third of Sporting's field. Hedges will likely have Sallói as one of his assignments Saturday, and the matchup could be the deciding factor for which team comes out on top.
Carlos Gruezo vs. Ilie Sánchez — Gruezo scored the first time these two met earlier this season, and he will look to get back on the scoresheet again this time around. Ilie plays in the heart of Sporting's lineup and is an integral part of its midfield. The two will match up once again, and the game could be decided on who wins the battle in the midfield.
Projected Starting XI
Sporting KC (4-3-3): Melia; Lindsey, Smith, Opara, Zusi; Espinoza, Ilie, Croizet; Gerso, Russell, Salloi
Keys to Three Points
FC Dallas will have to learn from its mistakes from the Open Cup matchup in order to take all three points. Playing at Children's Mercy Park has always been a tough test for FCD, but learning from its loss earlier this season can be crucial to success this time around. FCD has played well recently, and it has a chance to take advantage of Sporting's poor form. If Dallas can score first and early on, it increases its chances of winning immensely.