D.C UNITED vs. SPORTING KANSAS CITY
2017 MLS Regular Season
RFK Stadium - Washington, D.C.
Saturday, March 4 - 7 pm ET
WATCH: MLS Live, FOX Sports KC
Sporting Kansas City spent the offseason getting younger, faster on the flanks and surgically repaired down the middle with bone spur removal procedures for both center back Matt Besler and center forward Dom Dwyer. D.C. United spent a lot of money -- a record transfer fee for the club -- to keep midfielder Luciano Acosta, one of MLS's most dangerous creative threats, in the league by buying out his contract from Argentina's Boca Juniors. On Saturday at RFK Stadium, both sides will get their first looks at how those moves will pan out for 2017, as both try to return to the postseason and make deeper runs than they have in recent years.
D.C. United have a slight edge in the all-time series, with 21 wins to Sporting's 20, and the teams have notched 12 draws.
DC-SKC All-Time MLS Meetings (53 games)
- at D.C. (26 meetings): D.C. lead 13-6-7 (36 DC goals, 27 SKC goals)
- at Kansas City (27 meetings): SKC lead 14-8-5 (47 SKC goals, 32 DC goals)
Referee: Robert Sibiga
Assistant Referees: Jeff Muschik (bench side), Eric Weisbrod (far side)
Fourth Official: Alex Chilowicz
Acosta should have plenty of firepower available for service opportunities this season, with striker Patrick Mullins up top and midfielders Patrick Nyarko, Jared Jeffrey and Lloyd Sam deployed alongside the Designated Player. Mullins, Nyarko and Jeffrey all found the net on Saturday in a 3-2 victory over Philadelphia that closed out a 4-1-1 preseason. Mullins is an especially dangerous target, after scoring eight goals in just 14 matches with D.C. in 2016.
Probable starting lineup (4-1-4-1): Bill Hamid; Nick DeLeon, Sean Franklin, Steve Birnbaum, Taylor Kemp; Marcelo Sarvas; Patrick Nyarko, Lucho Acosta, Jared Jeffrey, Lloyd Sam; Patrick Mullins
- Suspensions: None
- International absences: None
- Injuries: Chris Odoi-Atsem (bilateral calves), Luciano Acosta (undisclosed injury)
In addition to cleaning out Dwyer's right ankle -- the plant foot for the lefty striker -- Sporting aimed to get him some help up top to keep defenses from collapsing on him in the penalty area and driving him to his right. Enter Gerso Fernandes, a 25-year-old left winger brought in from Portuguese side Os Belenenses as a Designated Player. His career track so far has been more as a service provider than a scoring threat, but manager Peter Vermes has always expected anyone in the front line to have a go if the opportunity presents itself. In Sporting's high press, it should.
Projected starting lineup (4-3-3): Tim Melia; Seth Sinovic, Matt Besler, Ike Opara, Graham Zusi; Roger Espinoza, Soni Mustivar, Benny Feilhaber; Gerso Fernandes, Dom Dwyer, Soony Saad
- Suspensions: None
- International absences: D Erik Palmer-Brown (US U-20 national team)
- Injuries: Diego Rubio (torn ACL), Cameron Iwasa (hamstring strain), Dom Dwyer (bone bruise in right foot)