Five Things, presented by Keith + Associates Dentistry, is a weekly series on SportingKC.com that highlights the top storylines, players to watch and matchday programming ahead of each game throughout the season.
Sporting Kansas City (6-7-7, 25 points) welcome fellow MLS originals FC Dallas (8-8-5, 29 points) to Children’s Mercy Park at 7:30 p.m. CT on Saturday. Tickets for the pivotal Western Conference clash are still available at SeatGeek.com as Sporting looks to move within a point of FC Dallas, who currently own the seventh and final playoff spot in the West.
Fans can catch the action live on FOX Sports Kansas City Plus, FOX Sports Midwest Plus, FOX Sports GO, Sports Radio 810 WHB and ESPN Deportes KC 1480 AM. Without further ado, here are five things to know about Saturday’s duel with Dallas.
1. Two Straight Shutouts
After recording only two MLS clean sheets through the first half of 2019, Sporting doubled their total in seven days. First, they handled the Chicago Fire 1-0 at home on July 6. Last Saturday, the squad went north to Vancouver—and again Tim Melia and the defense stood tall. This time around, the offense provided them with more fire power. Gerso Fernandes forced an own goal early and capped off his night with a 90th minute strike. Gutierrez scored in the 56th minute, moving him into the team lead with eight on the season. Melia had a season-high six saves en route to the shutout. Sporting has not conceded in 180 minutes and will look to keep the streak alive against an FC Dallas team that has scored 29 times through 21 MLS fixtures.
2. Playoff Push
After losing to LAFC on July 3, Sporting found themselves in the basement of the Western Conference. Two games later, they’re only four points away from a playoff spot and have a matchup with the team that currently occupies that position. After defeating Chicago at home and winning a crucial Western Conference battle with Vancouver, Sporting are right back in the race. Three points in this one would further strengthen momentum and pull the side to .500 on the year.
3. A New Sporting Legend
Josh Wolff will become the newest member of the club’s Sporting Legends hall of honor during a pregame ceremony on Saturday night. Wolff is the 10th club icon to join Sporting Legends, an initiative launched in 2013 that tributes the all-time greats of the club and provides a platform for them to engage with the Kansas City soccer community. Wolff will have his name adorned outside the Victory Suite in the northwest corner of Children’s Mercy Park and will receive a UMB Sporting Legends Pylon inside the UMB Premium Entry, showcasing the U.S. Men’s National Team jersey he wore at the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany.
Wolff played seven seasons in Kansas City, compiling 46 goals and 30 assists in 163 competitive appearances. He ranks fourth on the club’s all-time goals charts and eighth in assists. In 2004 his 11 goals in all competitions contributed to the team making a run to the MLS Cup Final, MLS All-Star accolades and a Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Title. He also amassed 52 career international caps and nine goals for the U.S. Men’s National Team.
4. Ilie Ruled out
Sporting will take the field Saturday without their maestro in the middle, as Ilie Sanchez will serve a one-game suspension for caution accumulation. Per MLS competition guidelines, if a player accumulates five yellow cards in a season, he will be suspended for one match following the fifth yellow card. His 68th-minute yellow card against Vancouver was his fifth of the year. Remarkably, Ilie has appeared in all 27 competitive matches this season and in all but one of Sporting’s 108 competitive matches since the start of 2017. This suspension will end Ilie’s incredible streak of 80 straight appearances in all competitions.
5. Bring a Water Bottle
Due to high temperatures, each fan will be allowed to bring one 20-ounce, clear plastic water bottle into Children's Mercy Park on Saturday. The cap will be unsealed and removed at the gate by security personnel.
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