“What we do is play aggressive.”
That's how Manager Peter Vermes described his team's style of play last year, when Sporting Kansas City led the league in duels (defined by Opta as a 50-50 contest between two players of opposing sides) for a third straight year.
"It's a characteristic for them to play aggressive."
FC Dallas Manager Oscar Pareja echoed those sentiments after the lone meeting between the two sides during the 2014 season, in which FC Dallas ranked second in duels but first in duels won -- knocking off Sporting KC from the top spot for the first time since 2011.
Fast forward from 3/15/14 to 3/14/15 and the stage was set for another combative Week 2 match-up between the two MLS charter clubs newly reunited in the Western Conference.
READ: Vermes praises defense
FC Dallas emerged with the 3-1 victory at Toyota Stadium -- led by two goals from Panamanian striker Blas Perez -- and did so by winning 61 percent of the game's duels (69 of 113). It marked the largest negative discrepancy in duels for Sporting Kansas City since Opta began tracking MLS stats in 2011 and a 33.3 percent decrease from the team's 66 duels won in the season opener.
|at FC Dallas||3/14/15||113||44||39%||3-1 L|
|at Montreal||5/10/14||70||29||41%||3-0 W|
|vs. Houston||5/26/13||96||39||41%||1-1 T|
|vs. Columbus||6/29/13||97||40||41%||3-2 W|
|vs. Colorado||8/31/13||114||47||41%||2-1 W|
|at Vancouver||4/2/11||118||48||41%||3-3 T|
|at Montreal||9/22/12||123||51||41%||0-0 T|
|vs. Columbus||9/28/11||67||28||42%||2-1 W|
|at LA Galaxy||5/14/11||81||34||42%||4-1 L|
|vs. LA Galaxy||7/19/14||97||41||42%||2-1 W|
While Roger Espinoza led all MLS players in Week 2 with 12 duels won and 22 total duels -- en route to winning BurgerFi Man of the Match honors -- he was one of only three Sporting KC players with more duels won than lost on Saturday along with Krisztian Nemeth and Bernardo Anor.
After facing the No. 1 team in duels won from 2014 in FC Dallas, Sporting KC now returns home to host the Portland Timbers -- the No. 2 team in duels won from 2014 -- at 7:30 p.m. CT on Saturday at Sporting Park.
- FC Dallas: 1904 duels won
- Portland Timbers: 1896 duels won
- Sporting KC: 1879 duels won
The match-up will feature three of the league's top performers in terms of duels won since 2011 (including postseason):
- Osvaldo Alonso (SEA): 1,026
- Aurelien Collin (ORL): 857
- Patrick Nyarko (CHI): 782
- Diego Chara (POR): 758
- Benny Feilhaber (SKC): 729
- Darlington Nagbe (POR): 698
A limited number of tickets are available, including standing room only tickets released earlier today, and can be purchased via Ticketmaster.com or at the stadium box offices on gameday.