Sporting Kansas City vs. FC Dallas | MLS Match Preview

SPORTING KANSAS CITY vs FC DALLAS
SPORTING PARK, Kansas City, Kan.
March 15, 2014 (WEEK 2, MLS Game #12)
7:30 p.m. CT (KMCI-38; TWCSN-TX)
Free MLSsoccer.com Stream of the Week

The defending MLS champions make their league home bow for 2014 when Sporting Kansas City meet FC Dallas on Saturday evening at Sporting Park. SKC began defense of its title last weekend in a 1-0 loss at Seattle Sounders FC. FC Dallas started off their new season on a good note, knocking off the Montréal Impact 3-2 at home.

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REFEREE: Abbey Okulaja. SAR (bench): Eric Weisbrod; JAR (opposite): Nikola Aleksic; 4th: Leszek Stalmach
MLS Career: 118 games; FC/gm: 24.0; Y/gm: 3.3; R: 20; pens: 27

SUSPENDED: none
DISABLED LIST: DAL: London Woodberry
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (48 meetings): Sporting 20 wins (2 shootout), 70 goals … FC Dallas 19 wins (1 shootout), 79 goals … Ties 9
AT KANSAS CITY (24 meetings): Sporting 11 wins (0 shootout), 43 goals … FC Dallas 8 wins (2 shootout), 33 goals … Ties 5

LAST YEAR (MLS):
6/22: DAL 2, KC 2 (Jacobson 88; Zimmerman 90 – Kamara 43; own goal 57)

  • This is the only league meeting between the teams this season.
  • The teams met just once a year ago, a 2-2 draw in Frisco. When Sporting won 2-1 in 2012 in Kansas City in the lone meeting that season, it was their first home win vs. FC Dallas since 2009.
  • Sporting have come away with points on their last two trips to Frisco.
  • Coaches record: Peter Vermes vs. SEA: P7 W3 L3 D1 … Oscar Pareja vs. KC: P2 W0 L1 D1

SPORTING KANSAS CITY
Sporting Kansas City didn’t see defense of their 2013 Major League Soccer title get off to the best start, Seattle Sounders scoring yet another late, late goal for a 1-0 win Saturday afternoon at CenturyLink Field. Sporting have 0 points from 1 match.

LAST MATCH

  • The game's lone goal came well into stoppage. From a goalmouth scramble, Clint Dempsey put a header off the crossbar. The ball rebounded to Chad Barrett, who followed up another Dempsey shot and got just enough of it to put the ball in the back of the net. It was the fifth time in four years that Sounders FC have scored a late goal to beat Sporting KC.
  • Sporting manager Peter Vermes did not have any newcomers in his starting lineup for the league opener, but there were five changes from the team that started MLS Cup 2013 in December.
  • SPORTING KANSAS CITY (4-1-2-3): Eric Kronberg - Kevin Ellis, Aurelien Collin, Matt Besler, Josh Gardner (Mechack Jerome 90) - Lawrence Olum - Graham Zusi, Benny Feilhaber (Ike Opara 90) - C.J. Sapong, Dom Dwyer, Jacob Peterson (Sal Zizzo 58).

TEAM NEWS

  • For the fifth time in seven matches against Sounders FC, Sporting conceded the winning goal in stoppage-time. The loss snapped a four-game winning streak in season openers for SKC.
  • “This is not an easy place to play being the first game of the season and their home opener. I thought we played very well for 93 minutes and 43 seconds,” said SKC manager Peter Vermes. “We did a really good job on both sides. Defensively we were very disciplined. We had one lapse in our defensive shape overall, and that was in the last 17 seconds. It's unfortunate. We probably should've gotten a lot more coming out of this game because we had some really good chances as well, but that's the way it goes.”
  • After the retirement of Jimmy Nielsen in the offseason, Eric Kronberg started in goal for Sporting, just his sixth career league appearance in nine seasons with Kansas City.
  • “He played fantastic. He really did. He played fantastic,” Vermes said. “He's got a lot of good games ahead of him. He has nothing to be upset about, other than the fact that we lost. He played very, very well.”
  • Said Kronberg: “It was almost amazing.  A lot of excitement for sure, some nerves, but once you get out on the field you feel like every other day and you feel comfortable and confident. It's a great place to play and just wish we could've gotten a result.”
  • Sporting were also missing half of their starting back four from the MLS Cup-winning team, without fullbacks Chance Myers (right groin strain) and Seth Sinovic (right hip sprain). In addition, midfielder Paulo Nagamura (left ankle sprain) was also out of the season opener.
  • Homegrown Player Kevin Ellis started at right back, his third career league appearance, second as a starter. Josh Gardner slotted in on the left side of defense.
  • “The team played well. I don't have any criticism for any of the guys, other than the fact that we had one lapse in the midfield late in the game,” Vermes said. “We should've been very smart and kept things compact, and at the end it fell apart, but outside of that, the team played really well.”
  • On Wednesday, Sporting began their CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal series with a 1-0 win against Mexico’s Cruz Azul at Sporting Park. Defender Kevin Ellis scored the game’s lone goal on 17 minutes.
  • Here’s the Sporting team: Eric Kronberg; Seth Sinovic, Matt Besler, Ike Opara, Kevin Ellis; Oriol Rosell, Paulo Nagamura, Benny Feilhaber (C.J. Sapong 76); Graham Zusi, Claudio Bieler (Dom Dwyer 88), Sal Zizzo (Jacob Peterson 60)
  • “It was a big match and we expended a lot of energy. We worked very hard and it's a shame we could not get a second goal. We had some very good chances,” Vermes said. “But all in all, I think our work ethic ruled the day. But if you really take it over a 90-minute match, this is the first half and we have another half to play when we go to Mexico. We still have a big challenge in front of us.”

FC DALLAS
FC Dallas kicked off the Oscar Pareja era on the right note, getting three goals in short order around halftime to claim a 3-2 win against the Montréal Impact on Saturday evening at Toyota Stadium. FC Dallas are one of five teams with 3 points from 1 game in the Western Conference.

LAST MATCH

  • Montreal took the lead 10 minutes in when when right winger Justin Mapp beat two defenders down the right side and crossed a ball across the goalmouth to a waiting Sanna Nyassi, who easily turned it past goalkeeper Chris Seitz.
  • FC Dallas were level just six minutes later. Jair Benítez sent a cross from the left to Je-Vaughn Watson, who sent it forward into the box for Blas Pérez. He pushed the ball into the path of winger Fabián Castillo, who picked his spot at the far post and calmly finished past goalkeeper Troy Perkins.
  • In the 23rd minute, Mauro Díaz drew a penalty when he drew contact with defender Jeb Brovsky and referee Edvin Jurisevic pointed to the spot. Perez stepped up and drilled the attempt into the roof of the net to give FCD the lead.
  • Two minutes after the second-half restart, from a handball just outside the top of the area, Diaz sent a gorgeous free kick into the upper left corner.
  • Andrew Wenger pulled Montreal back to within a goal in the 65th minute, easily heading home an early looping ball from Felipe Martins.
  • Newcomer Mauro Diaz started the match in the playmaking role in midfield and Hendry Thomas filled the holding midfield role in Oscar Pareja’s first game in charge at FCD.
  • FC DALLAS (4-2-3-1): Chris Seitz - Kellyn Acosta (Andres Escobar 81), Matt Hedges, Moises Hernandez, Jair Benitez - Andrew Jacobson, Hendry Thomas (Michel 65) - Je-Vaughn Watson, Mauro Diaz (Peter Luccin 88), Fabian Castillo - Blas Perez.

TEAM NEWS

  • Oscar Pareja won his debut as the FC Dallas field boss, the club’s third consecutive win in their season opener, extending their undefeated streak on opening day to five matches.
  • “It’s great to start with a win.  There are a lot of things that we need to put into effect in the game to see what we want. ... I have to say that the boys are pleased with the results of the game tonight,” Pareja said. “Little by little – it’s an on-going process. It’s a long season. They were happy, but they know there is a long way to go.”
  • With the departure of former MLS MVP David Ferreira in the offseason, Mauro Diaz was installed as the club’s attacking linchpin in the center of the park, and he scored a goal and added an assist in the season opener. Diaz scored 3 goals and added 2 assists in 10 league appearances (five as a starter) after arriving at midseason a year ago.
  • “It’s a great way to finish off a solid game from him. He was very active all game. He always wanted the ball. He is everything you look for in a No. 10,” said FCD captain Andrew Jacobson.
  • Chris Seitz was given the reins between the posts as the starting goalkeeper for the season opener, ahead of Richard Sanchez and Raúl Fernández.
  • “He really made some outstanding saves. The first save he made in the early minutes of the match was big and he continued to do well and be in good positions throughout the match,” said defender Moises Hernandez. Said Pareja: “I’m happy to see that the competition for the position is very high now. What Chris Seitz did today was outstanding, which also pushes Raul [Fernandez] and Richard [Sanchez].”
  • Blas Perez picked up where he left off in 2013, scoring his first goal of the season. Perez netted 11 goals last year for FCD, five coming over the final 10 games of the season.
  • Fabian Castillo also scored his first goal of season, scoring just twice in 2013 after netting six goals in 2012. “Castillo showed all of his potential, with the six or seven plays and the quality… He brings a lot of quality to the flanks every game,” Pareja said.
  • Moises Hernández was also given the start in central defense, with nominal starter George John out injured. “Tonight’s game was a big challenge for Moises because that was his first game in that position. You know he’s young and that position isn’t natural for him, which is hard, but I think he did great,” said Pareja.