Sporting Kansas City at FC Dallas
2021 MLS Regular Season | Match 27
Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2021 | 7 p.m. CT
Toyota Stadium | Frisco, Texas
English TV | Bally Sports KC Plus, Bally Sports Midwest Plus
Streaming | BallySports.com, Bally Sports app
English Radio | Sports Radio 810 WHB
Spanish Radio | La Grande 1340 AM
The race for first place in the Western Conference will continue Wednesday when second-place Sporting Kansas City (13-6-7, 46 points) travels south to face familiar foes FC Dallas (6-12-9, 27 points) at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. CT as a pair of MLS charter members square off for the third time this season.
Bally Sports Kansas City Plus, Bally Sports Midwest Plus, BallySports.com and the Bally Sports app will provide three hours of live coverage on Wednesday, kicking off with Sporting KC Live presented by Michelob Ultra at 6:30 p.m. CT. Sports Radio 810 WHB (English) and La Grande 1340 AM (Spanish) will carry the game locally, with The Final Whistle postgame show immediately following on 810 WHB.
Supporters can access the Sporting KC app for in-game updates plus exclusive offers and content on Wednesday and join one of two Chicken N Pickle watch party celebrations in North Kansas City, Missouri (1761 Burlington St.) or Wichita, Kansas (1240 N Greenwich Rd.). Watch party specials and programming will start 30 minutes before kickoff.
Seeking their third first-place finish in the West since 2018, Sporting relinquished the top spot in the conference following a 2-1 home loss to leaders Seattle Sounders FC at Children’s Mercy Park. Captain and forward Johnny Russell scored his fourth goal in five games on the hour mark, but the Sounders had already done damage through Cristian Roldan and Will Bruin to grab their first win in Kansas City since 2013.
Manager Peter Vermes’ side will now look to bounce back away from home, having experienced substantial success on their travels over the last two seasons. Sporting are 11-6-4 on the road since the start of 2020 and went 4-0-2 during a six-game away stretch from July 4 to Aug. 21 before falling at LAFC on Sept. 3. Goalkeeper Tim Melia has posted shutouts in three of the club’s last four road fixtures, including a 2-0 triumph at FC Dallas on Aug. 14 that saw forwards Daniel Salloi and Alan Pulido both tally a goal and an assist.
Pulido, questionable for Wednesday’s match with a knee ailment, is one of four Sporting players listed on the club’s injury and availability report. Defender Graham Zusi will be absent while he serves a one-game suspension for caution accumulation, fellow right back Jaylin Lindsey remains out nursing a hamstring issue, goalkeeper John Pulskamp will miss out with a facial injury sustained in Sporting KC II’s match versus FC Tulsa last Friday, and midfielder Felipe Hernandez is unavailable for personal reasons.
Russell and Salloi have spurred a prolific Sporting attack that leads the Western Conference with 44 goals this season. The duo will aim to cash in Wednesday against an FC Dallas side that has conceded 16 goals in its last seven matches and hasn’t won a game since Aug. 29. The club’s recent struggles prompted the Sept. 19 dismissal of head coach Luchi Gonzalez, who has been replaced on an interim basis by FC Dallas Director of Soccer Operations Marco Ferruzzi.
Dallas saw its winless run hit five matches in a narrow 1-0 defeat at Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Sept. 25. With five of its next six games at Toyota Stadium—where the team has gone a formidable 31-5-10 in the regular season since the start of 2018—Dallas will approach Wednesday’s contest as the potential first step toward a late-season turnaround. The team currently occupies 11th place in the West, nine points below the playoff line.
The midweek battle will likely feature the two top-scoring Homegrown forwards in Major League Soccer, both of whom landed MLS All-Star recognition this summer. Salloi, of course, is in the midst of a career year, ranking third in the Golden Boot race with 13 goals and placing fourth with 19 total goal contributions (including six assists). His stat line is remarkably similar to that of 18-year-old Dallas forward Ricardo Pepi, who punctuated his jump into the United States Men's National Team last month with a goal and two assists against Honduras on Sept. 8. Pepi has 12 goals and three assists on the year, having played one more game than Salloi in 2021.
Pepi is part of a capable Dallas attack that also features fellow Homegrown Player Jesus Ferreira, who has six goals and six assists this year, as well as in-form winger Jader Obrian. The 26-year-old Obrian scored back-to-back braces in a 3-3 draw at New York City FC on Sept. 14 and a 3-2 loss at Houston Dynamo FC four days later. Defensively, however, Dallas will have to cope with the absence of captain and lynchpin center back Matt Hedges, who is suspended for yellow card accumulation.
On the Sporting sideline, Russell is on the brink of a notable milestone as he approaches his 100th start for the club in all competitions. The dynamic winger recently became just the second MLS player since 2018 to record 30 goals and 30 assists in regular season play alongside LAFC star Carlos Vela. Additionally, veteran midfielder Roger Espinoza is one shy of his 250th regular season start in a Kansas City uniform.