Sporting KC prepared to face down FC Dallas once again

Graham Zusi and Jair Benitez.

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — For the third consecutive game, Sporting Kansas City will have something their opponents can only dream about: plenty of time to prepare.

FC Dallas will arrive at Livestrong Sporting Park for Saturday night’s contest (8:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online) working on just two day’s rest. Their midweek plans were disrupted after severe weather conditions in Toronto on Wednesday night forced their CONCACAF Champions League group game to be replayed Thursday morning.

It will be the third time in two weeks Sporting have faced an opponent facing a two-day turnaround. So far, that advantage has worked out perfectly for Kansas City as manager Peter Vermes’ team knocked off Portland a week-and-a-half ago and outlasted a gassed D.C. United squad last weekend to move all the way into second place in the Eastern Conference.

“Dallas obviously had some strange traveling issues,” defender Matt Besler said. “It’s an advantage for us, but only if we use it. We’ve got to go out there and put our stamp on the game.”

Vermes, however, remained a little more skeptical.

“I don’t buy into that,” Vermes said. “Teams figure out a way to be successful no matter what the challenges are. As far as I’m concerned, we can’t use that. We have to go out and play and be ready for this game. They are a very good team.”

And, rested or not, certainly everyone in Kansas City respects what Dallas bring to the table. Despite losing MLS MVP David Ferreira early in the season, Schellas Hyndman has already led his team to 12 victories this season, tied for second in the league, and gotten Dallas off to a flying start in the Champions League.

The visitors may be without standout center back George John, who is currently in England negotiating a transfer to Blackburn Rovers, but they remain dangerous all the same with Brek Shea, Marvin Chávez and Maicon Santos leading the line. In terms of sheer speed and athleticism, FCD are probably top of the MLS heap.

“Schellas has done a great job putting together a very dynamic team,” Vermes said. “It’s going to be a very difficult game for us.”  

Still, it’s a challenge that won't leave Sporting daunted. Kansas City handed Dallas a comprehensive 4-1 defeat at Pizza Hut Park back in June, highlighted by two goals from Graham Zusi, and fully expect their opponents to be looking for at least a little bit of payback. 

“Dallas is going to be ready to go,” Besler said. “We beat them 4-1 at their place. They aren’t going to forget about that.”