Preview: Sporting KC Visits FC Dallas on Saturday
The two remaining unbeaten teams in Major League Soccer square off Saturday when Sporting Kansas City (3-0-3, 12 points) visits FC Dallas (3-0-2) at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas. The Western Conference clash headlines the Week 8 slate in MLS, kicking off at 7 p.m. CT with three hours of live television coverage beginning at 6:30 p.m. on FOX Sports Kansas City Plus.
Viewers who receive the primary FOX Sports Kansas City channel in their cable package will also be able to watch Saturday's match live on the FOX Sports GO app . Additional live updates will be provided on the Sporting KC Uphoria app, while listeners can follow the action on Sports Radio 810 WHB (English) and La Grande 1340 AM (Spanish). In addition, The Final Whistle: Sporting KC Postgame Show will air immediately after the game on 810 WHB.
All supporters are invited to the official watch party for Saturday's contest at No Other Pub in the Kansas City Power & Light District (1370 Grand Blvd.). Beginning at 6:30 p.m. CT, No Other Pub will offer $6 Till Vodka cocktails and an all-you-can-eat buffet with hamburgers, hot dogs, wings, cheese curds and bottomless domestic draft beers.
Peter Vermes: "We have a lot of respect for (FC Dallas)"
Sporting Kansas City and FC Dallas have used stingy defenses to climb to second and third in the early Western Conference standings, respectively. Led by Manager Peter Vermes, Sporting KC has posted a league-best four shutouts to remain undefeated through six games for just the third time in club history. Further south, head coach Oscar Pareja shows no signs of slowing down with an FC Dallas side that has reached 60 points in each of the last two regular seasons.
A gritty 1-0 road win over the Portland Timbers last Saturday saw three Sporting Kansas City players earn MLS Team of the Week honors. Goalkeeper Tim Melia stunned spectators with a sprawling save to deny Darlington Nagbe, lowering his goals against average to an MLS-best 0.33 in the process, while center back Ike Opara and holding midfielder ilie delivered sterling performances to keep a potent Portland attack at bay. The result gave Sporting KC its fourth consecutive road clean sheet in the regular season, tying an all-time club record.
While impregnable defensively, Sporting Kansas City has also kicked its offense into gear since the turn of the month. Forward Dom Dwyer has two goals in as many games and will look to improve upon an impressive scoring record against FC Dallas: he has seven goals in his last seven appearances against the side in all competitions.
Tim Melia: "We need to make sure we are organized defensively"
FC Dallas is coming off an ultimately frustrating 1-1 draw with the San Jose Earthquakes last Friday at Avaya Stadium. Pareja's team surged ahead behind Kellyn Acosta's strike in the 78th minute, but a last-gasp equalizer from Jahmir Hyka left the visitors with just a point. They now return to the friendly confines of Toyota Stadium, where they have lost just once in their last 24 regular season games.
A busy start to 2017 required FC Dallas to juggle the MLS regular season and the CONCACAF Champions League, where they advanced to the semifinals before narrowly falling to Pachuca. The Mexican outfit overturned a 2-1 deficit with a 3-1 home win on April 4 to eliminate their MLS counterparts.
CONCACAF heartbreak aside, FC Dallas has remained tough to beat in domestic competition. The club is 5-0-5 in its last 10 regular season matches dating back to last season, notching five clean sheets during the stretch. Matt Hedges and Walker Zimmerman form one of the best center back partnerships in MLS, as FC Dallas has allowed just 0.9 goals per game when the duo start together since the beginning of 2016. Further up the field, central midfielder Acosta has exploded for five goals in all competitions after netting just twice last year.
Roger Espinoza: "It's a good test for where we are at"
The teams last met on March 11, battling to a scoreless draw in Sporting KC's home opener at Children's Mercy Park. The hosts enjoyed 69 percent possession and outshot FC Dallas 14-6, but were unable to breach an organized backline anchored by captain Hedges. Sporting KC owns a narrow 23-21-12 advantage in the series but is winless in its last four visits to Toyota Stadium.
Both clubs have just one name on their respective injury reports - a pair of long-term absentees who suffered serious setbacks last October. Sporting KC forward Diego Rubio remains sidelined as he continues to undergo rehabilitation on his ACL, while FC Dallas' midfield talisman Mauro Diaz is recovering from a ruptured Achilles.
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