Preview: Sporting KC visits first-place FC Dallas on Saturday

Sporting Kansas City at FC Dallas
Saturday, Aug. 13 — 8 p.m. CT
Toyota Stadium | Frisco, Texas

Broadcast Schedule:
English TV | 38 The Spot, SKCTV
English Radio | 99.3 FM
Spanish Radio | 1340 AM

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A pair of Major League Soccer's charter members square off Saturday when Sporting Kansas City (10-11-4, 34 points) continues its road swing against FC Dallas (13-6-5, 44 points) at Toyota Stadium. SKCTV and 38 The Spot will provide three hours of live television coverage beginning at 7:30 p.m. CT, and the match will kick off at 8 p.m. with local radio broadcasts on 99.3 FM (English) and 1340 AM (Spanish). In-game updates will also be available online at SportingKC.com/gameon and through the club's official mobile app Sporting KC Uphoria.

Saturday's contest carries great importance for both clubs, albeit for different reasons. Sporting Kansas City is fifth in the Western Conference table, but only four points separate themselves from a chasing Vancouver Whitecaps FC outfit that is currently on the wrong side of the red line. FC Dallas, meanwhile, is pursuing a Supporters' Shield title and will want to extend their three-point lead at the summit.

Sporting Kansas City remains squarely in the playoff picture despite failing to win 10 straight road games in the regular season. Peter Vermes' men are coming off a 3-0 setback at the Portland Timbers last week, a result made all the more sour by Soni Mustivar's first-half red card and Roger Espinoza's second-half caution. Both midfielders will serve one-game suspensions on Saturday, joining an injured quartet on the sidelines that includes Matt Besler (MCL strain), Justin Mapp (calf strain), Tim Melia (back spasms) and Chance Myers (hamstring strain). The lengthy list of absences will undoubtedly test the team's depth, especially with Tuesday's CONCACAF Champions League opener looming at Central FC in Trinidad and Tobago.

FC Dallas is presently juggling three competitions, having booked a spot in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final with a remarkable 2-1 extra time win at LA Galaxy on Wednesday. Oscar Pareja's men fell behind via Mike Magee's 101st-minute penalty kick, but completed a stunning comeback thanks to a pair of goals off Mauro Diaz corner kicks — the first from defender Matt Hedges in the 116th minute and the second from midfielder Victor Ulloa in the 121st. FC Dallas also claimed victory in their first Champions League match last Thursday, a 2-1 victory over Real Esteli of Nicaragua.

While Sporting Kansas City may benefit from FC Dallas' 120-minute exertion at midweek, Saturday's match at Toyota Stadium nonetheless poses a daunting challenge. The Texas side boasts a 9-0-3 home record in regular season play, outscoring opponents 25-7 at Toyota Stadium, and rides a 19-game home unbeaten streak (including playoffs) since August 2015.

Diaz is the focal point of Dallas' attack, ranking second in MLS with 10 assists — including a league-best five game-winning helpers — and third with 55 chances created. The talismanic Argentine is surrounded by three players who have at least five goals and two assists: Maxu Urruti (6 goals, 3 assists), Michael Barrios (6 goals, 2 assists) and Tesho Akindele (5 goals, 3 assists). Defensively, goalkeeper Chris Seitz is tied for the league lead with seven shutouts and towering center back Walker Zimmerman is the only MLS player to rank among the top five in aerial duels won, interceptions and clearances. Veteran defender Zach Loyd is ruled out with a concussion but is the lone injury concern for the table toppers.

The clubs have split two previous meetings this season — FC Dallas winning 2-1 at home on April 17 and Sporting Kansas City earning a 2-0 triumph on June 19 at Children's Mercy Park. Sporting KC's Benny Feilhaber has stamped his name on the series, notching four goals and seven assists in his last seven games against FC Dallas across all competitions. Of equal relevance, the home team in the head-to-head fixture has won six straight and is 7-0-2 in the last nine contests.

Sporting Kansas City holds a narrow 23-21-10 edge in the all-time regular season set, including a 9-13-4 mark on the road. Vermes' side is just 1-4-2 in its last seven visits to Toyota Stadium, but has won four of the last five meetings in all competitions. Viewers could be treated to multiple goals on Saturday night if trends hold true, as the last six meetings between the teams in all competitions have produced 25 goals.