FRISCO, Texas-Occasionally, when a team finds itself under new management, the players can struggle to adapt to the demands and playing style of a new coach. Even with a tough match against Sporting Kansas City on Saturday, there is reason to believe that FC Dallas can come away from Children’s Mercy Park with a share of the points.
There is no doubt that playing on the road is hard in MLS. Kansas City is especially tough in Children’s Mercy Park, and FC Dallas has only won once in their last eight visits. Kansas City have always historically been a challenging place, and ever since their inception they have had a 53% winning percentage at home. However, last season’s results will provide hope for FC Dallas, as their last game in Kansas City ended in a 3-2 victory courtesy of a stunning Michael Barrios hattrick.
“It’s a difficult and challenging environment to play in [Kansas City], but we embrace that,” said head coach Luchi Gonzalez. “I feel like when we are away, we have been showing courage. We are going to go there learning from our last game and leave everything on the field.”
The game also highlights an interesting coaching matchup. SKC’s manager, Peter Vermes has been the head coach of Sporting KC since 2009, making him the longest tenured MLS coach with an established style and reputation. Meanwhile, after significant success with the youth teams, FC Dallas head coach Luchi Gonzalez is in his first year. Gonzalez was able to lead the youth team to a historic 2017 Dallas Cup Super Group championship. Gonzalez was also a key part of the Academy program that had led to FCD signing 15 homegrown players before his tenture began.
While Gonzalez was quick to point out that “Kansas City has a similar way [of playing],” the one thing that the FC Dallas head coach is determined to get from his players is effort. Technical skill and ability are important qualities but “when we go to Kansas we have to leave everything on the field for the jersey.”
One thing that Luchi Gonzalez has stressed to his team is the idea of keeping possession and playing positively. In their last five MLS games FCD had above 50% possession.
“We’ve been trying to control the game…we are showing more consistency [around] the idea of possession,” said Gonzalez when asked about his team’s playing style. FCD has played opponents who vary in style and records. Regardless of who they face, whether it be second place DC United or tenth place Portland, the goal of retaining possession remains consistent.
While Kansas City and Children’s Mercy Park has not historically been a happy hunting ground for FCD, an improved and defined style suggested that Luchi’s men might be able to buck the historical trend.