Preview: First-Place Sporting to Host FC Dallas on Wednesday
Following a 1-1 road draw against the Colorado Rapids on Saturday, Western Conference leaders Sporting Kansas City (5-2-1, 16 points) will return to Children's Mercy Park on Wednesday for a showdown with fellow MLS originals FC Dallas (2-1-3, 9 points) at 7:30 p.m. CT.
Three hours of live coverage will begin Wednesday at 7 p.m. CT on FOX Sports Kansas City Plus, FOX Sports Midwest Plus and FOX Sports GO. In Mid-Missouri and Iowa, the game will be shown on Mediacom 22. Listeners can also catch the action locally on Sports Radio 810 WHB and La Grande 1340 AM, with The Final Whistle postgame show immediately following on 810 WHB. U.S. viewers outside of the FOX Sports Midwest footprint can stream the match on ESPN Plus.
Following detailed safety protocols developed in conjunction with the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas, Wednesday's match will be held at a reduced capacity of approximately 14% with extensive safety protocols in place. Tickets for the game will be available exclusively to Sporting Kansas City Season Ticket Members via lottery and no single-game tickets will be sold by the club on SeatGeek.com or at the stadium box office.
Both teams will be facing quick turnarounds after taking the field last weekend. Sporting overcame a 1-0 deficit in Colorado thanks to a stunning 67th-minute equalizer from 18-year-old midfielder Gianluca Busio, whose standout performance included a game-high five tackles won, seven duels won and completion on 27 of 31 passes. Busio is one of five Homegrown Players that Manager Peter Vermes has relied on in recent weeks, with right back Jaylin Lindsey, forward Daniel Salloi and midfielders Cameron Duke and Felipe Hernandez also earning minutes.
FC Dallas, meanwhile, snapped a four-game winless skid on Saturday with a 3-1 home defeat of Minnesota United FC. The hosts struck twice in the first 12 minutes through diminutive forward Fafa Picault and 19-year-old striker Jesus Ferreira before sealing the result in second-half stoppage time on a goal from defender Reto Ziegler.
Wednesday's clash will feature one of the league's best attacks -- Sporting leads MLS with 18 goals scored -- against one of its best defenses. FC Dallas boasts a 0.67 goals against average, having allowed just four goals in six games this season. Goalkeeper Jimmy Mauer has made four straight starts since the campaign resumed in mid-August, conceding just twice and making 19 saves during that stretch.
The FC Dallas backline is anchored by veterans Ziegler and Matt Hedges, while head coach Luchi Gonzalez's attacking options include Ferreira and 31-year-old Czech international Zdenek Ondrasek. Midfielder Michael Barrios has also enjoyed past success versus Sporting, recording five goals and four assists in 12 regular season appearances against the club.
Sporting's potent scoring punch has been widespread, as a league-leading nine different players have found the back of the net. Midfielder Gadi Kinda has a team-best four goals, while fellow offseason acquisitions Alan Pulido and Khiry Shelton have three apiece. On the opposite sideline, Ondrasek has a team-best two goals but hasn't scored since before MLS suspended play in mid-March.
With Kinda serving a red card suspension, Roger Espinoza sidelined through injury, Ilie Sanchez tending to personal matters and Felipe Gutierrez out for the season, Sporting's depth will be on display Wednesday. The possibility of an all-Homegrown midfield looms with Busio, 19-year-old Duke and 22-year-old Hernandez in contention for starts.
The regular season series between these MLS charter members is tied at 25-25-12. Sporting are 8-2-2 in their last 12 home matches against FC Dallas across all competitions, but the Texas outfit won both meetings in 2019. FC Dallas went on a 10-match winless draught at Children's Mercy Park from 2012-2018 before winning on each of its previous two visits, including a 3-2 result in July 2018 and a 2-0 triumph last summer.
Wednesday marks the continuation of a busy match schedule through the end of the regular season, as clubs will play up to two times per week through Decision Day on Nov. 8 to conclude the 23-game campaign. The Audi MLS Cup Playoffs, featuring an expanded field of 18 teams, are slated to begin on Nov. 20 and culminate with the 25th MLS Cup on Dec. 12.
Fans in attendance on Wednesday will receive a free captain's armband courtesy of match sponsor US Bank and have the opportunity to shop for a variety of Kick Childhood Cancer retail items -- including limited-edition scarves and beanies -- in support of The Victory Project and Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. For every beanie sold, Sporting will donate a beanie to Children's Mercy Hospital for patients battling cancer.
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