Preview: Sporting KC to host FC Dallas in Saturday's home opener

Sporting Kansas City vs. FC Dallas
Saturday, March 11 — 8 p.m. CT
Children's Mercy Park | Kansas City, Kansas

Broadcast Schedule:
English TV | FOX Sports Kansas City
English Radio | ESPN 99.3 FM
Spanish Radio | La Grande 1340 AM
Mobile | Sporting KC Uphoria, FOX Sports GO

MatchDay Central | Uphoria App | Social Media | Videos
Game Notes | Media Guide | MatchCenter | By The Numbers

Sporting Kansas City returns to state-of-the-art Children's Mercy Park on Saturday to host FC Dallas in the club's 2017 home opener. The Western Conference battle will kick off at 8 p.m. CT and a limited number of tickets, including standing-room only tickets, are available at SeatGeek.com.

FOX Sports Kansas City will televise three hours of live coverage beginning at 7:30 p.m. CT. ESPN 99.3FM (English) and La Grande 1340 AM (Spanish) will also air live broadcasts, while mobile users can catch a live stream on FOX Sports GO. Fans are also encouraged to download the Sporting KC Uphoria app to enjoy a variety of perks, including mobile entry into the stadium, free Oreo cookies and MySKC Cam. Additional in-game updates will be available on SportingKC.com's MatchDay Central.

Supporters are encouraged to arrive early at Children's Mercy Park for a light show and fireworks before kickoff. The first 15,000 fans through the gates will also receive a free schedule magnet courtesy of match sponsor Children's Mercy, and alternative rock band Hembree will perform after the game in the Boulevard Members Club.

Goalkeeper Tim Melia was the star of the show in Week 1, saving a penalty kick to preserve Sporting Kansas City’s clean sheet in a 0-0 draw at D.C. United. Manager Peter Vermes notably gave debuts to Gerso and Ilie, both of whom delivered solid performances in their maiden MLS matches. Midfield talisman Benny Feilhaber came closest to finding the back of the net, but Bill Hamid’s acrobatic stop prevented a well-struck free kick from nestling into the top corner.

FC Dallas has enjoyed a superb start to the 2017 campaign as defending U.S. Open Cup and Supporters’ Shield champions. Oscar Pareja’s side blitzed Arabe Unido in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals before claiming a 2-1 road win over the LA Galaxy last Saturday. Dallas received goals in that match from Maxi Urruti — the club’s 2016 leading scorer — and U.S. international Kellyn Acosta, a breakout midfielder whose three goals this year (all competitions) already eclipse his total from last season.

In 2016, FC Dallas became the first club in MLS history to earn at least 60 points in back-to-back seasons. Much of the team’s success revolved around a balanced scoring attack and a standout center back pairing: Matt Hedges was named 2016 MLS Defender of the Year, while Walker Zimmerman finished among the league leaders in duels won, clearances and interceptions. The Texas outfit knocked off the New England Revolution to hoist the U.S. Open Cup before securing the Supporters’ Shield on Decision Day.

Despite Dallas’ success, recent head-to-head history paints a positive picture for Sporting KC. Vermes’ men have won four straight home meetings in all competitions, outscoring FC Dallas 15-3 during that stretch. Sporting KC is also 7-0-2 in its last nine MLS home matches — a streak that began with a 2-0 triumph over FC Dallas last June.

Supporters hoping for plenty of goals on Saturday will be encouraged by a high-scoring trend in the series. Not only has Sporting KC scored in 13 straight games against FC Dallas, but the last seven meetings have produced a combined 29 goals. Feilhaber has relished the fixture in particular, amassing four goals and seven assists in his last seven appearances versus the team.

Both teams have acquired key pieces during the offseason while retaining veteran cores. Sporting KC’s Gerso and Ilie started last week, while 20-year-old forward Latif Blessing awaits his debut. Dallas also made some shrewd moves, acquiring veteran outside back Hernan Grana from Argentina and signing Paraguayan striker Cristian Colman as a Young Designated Player.

Sporting KC enters Saturday with a relatively clean bill of health. The hosts remain without long-term absentee Diego Rubio (ACL), while Cameron Iwasa is questionable with a hamstring strain. U.S. U-20 defender Erik Palmer-Brown is also questionable, having sprained his ankle during the CONCACAF U-20 Championship Final last Sunday — shortly before winning the Golden Ball as the tournament’s best player.

Dallas will be without three players who contributed valuably in 2016. MLS Best XI selection Mauro Diaz is sidelined with a torn Achilles, Victor Ulloa is out with a sports hernia, and Ryan Hollingshead continues to recover from a neck injury he suffered in a roadside accident in January.

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