SPORTING KANSAS CITY vs. FC Dallas
2017 MLS Regular Season
Children's Mercy Park - Kansas City, Kan.
Saturday, March 11 - 9 pm ET
WATCH: MLS Live, UDN, FOX Sports KC
It's been a great start to 2017 for FC Dallas: They've already booked a spot in the CONCACAF Champions League Semifinal, and Saturday's season-opening 2-1 victory over the LA Galaxy showed that the defending Supporters' Shield and Lamar Hunt US Open Cup champions will once more be a force to be reckoned with in domestic action.
Sporting Kansas City won't be pushovers in their home opener, though – even if they're still searching for their first goal of the year. Manager Peter Vermes likes to see clean sheets, and his team – with full involvement from everyone on the pitch – scratched out a hard-fought scoreless draw at D.C. United in their first match of the season.
A victory at Children's Mercy Park would keep Dallas at the forefront of the conversation about which team is the league's best. Knocking off the double-holders would put Sporting squarely into that conversation.
Sporting Kansas City
Despite the scoreless result last weekend at RFK, two of Sporting's newcomers made clear statements. One is that they prefer to go by their first names only, just like it says on their kits. The other is that they're here to do good things in MLS.
Left winger Gerso showed off speed to burn down the flank and a deft touch on service, including an early cross that center forward Dom Dwyer put over the bar. As those two continue to build their rapport, expect that connection to start paying off with the ball in the back of the net.
Meanwhile, Ilie proved himself a commanding presence in the defensive midfield – a key spot in manager Peter Vermes' 4-3-3, where his ideal d-mid wrecks opposing possessions, keeps pressure off the backline and organizes attacks out of the back.
- Suspended: none
- Int'l duty: none
- Injury report: OUT - F Diego Rubio (ACL); QUESTIONABLE - F Cameron Iwasa (hamstring strain), D Erik Palmer-Brown (ankle sprain)
Projected Starting Lineup (4-3-3): Tim Melia – Seth Sinovic, Matt Besler, Ike Opara, Graham Zusi – Roger Espinoza, Ilie, Benny Feilhaber – Gerso, Dom Dwyer, Jimmy Medranda.
Note: Sporting are 3W-2L-1D against Dallas since the start of the 2015 season. They are the only team to beat FC Dallas three times in the regular season in that time frame.
No Fabian Castillo (transferred to Trabzonspor). No Mauro Diaz (torn Achilles). No problem.
Kellyn Acosta has been a revelation for Dallas so far this season, the 21-year-old quickly establishing himself as a guy capable of being The Guy in the midfield after taking a supporting role to Diaz in past seasons. Playing in a box-to-box role, he has already scored three times across all competitions – in just three matches. At the other end of the pitch, Walker Zimmerman continues to establish himself as one of the league's best young central defenders – one getting serious interest from Europe. The only question is how much of his roster Oscar Pareja might rest between the seasons's grueling start (last week included a trip to Panama) and the CCL semis starting next week.
- Suspended: none
- Int'l duty: none
- Injury report: OUT - Mauro Diaz (torn Achilles tendon), Ryan Hollingshead (neck injury), Victor Ulloa (sports hernia injury), Anibal Chala (sports hernia injury)
Projected starting lineup (4-2-3-1): Chris Seitz – Hernan Grana, Walker Zimmerman, Matt Hedges, Maynor Figueroa – Carlos Gruezo, Kellyn Acosta – Michael Barrios, Maxi Urruti, Roland Lamah – Cristian Colman
Notes: FC Dallas only lost seven away games last year. Only five MLS teams lost less away games last season. Following their 2-1 win over the Galaxy last weekend, they are unbeaten in six consecutive regular season games (3W-3D).
Sporting lead the series by a narrow margin, with 23 victories to Dallas' 21, and there have been 11 draws.
SKC-FCD all-time results (55 matches)
- At Sporting: Sporting 14 victories, 53 goals; Dallas 8 victories, 35 goals; 6 draws
- At Dallas: Dallas 13 victories, 53 goals; Sporting 9 victories, 31 goals; 5 draws
Referee: Sorin Stoica
Assistant referees: Claudiu Badea, Jonathan Johnson
Fourth official: Allen Chapman.