"Five Things" is a season-long series presented by the Children's Mercy Sports Medicine Center that highlights the top storylines and players to watch ahead of each match. To visit the series archive, click here.
Upstart Sporting Kansas City (9-5-2, 29 points) will put a three-game winning streak on the line Wednesday when the club travels south to face Western Conference rivals FC Dallas (5-4-6, 21 points) at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. CT with live coverage on FOX Sports Kansas City, FOX Sports Midwest, FOX Sports GO, Sports Radio 810 WHB and La Grande 1340 AM.
Manager Peter Vermes' side is riding a palpable wave of momentum, having moved within a point of first place in the West following Sunday's dramatic 2-1 victory over Nashville SC that saw forward Erik Hurtado stamp his name in club folklore. Dallas, meanwhile, will be on full rest after their weekend fixture versus Minnesota United FC was postponed due to COVID-19 concerns.
As Sporting and Dallas prepare for their third head-to-head meeting of 2020, we examine five compelling storylines surrounding the matchup in the space below.
1. Three's Company, Too
Oh, how quickly things can change in MLS. A week and a half ago, Sporting had one win to show from a seven-game stretch through late August and all of September. On Wednesday against Dallas, they will have eyes on the club's first four-game regular season winning streak since 2018.
The hot spell began with an Alan Pulido-inspired 2-1 road win over the Houston Dynamo on Oct. 3 and continued with a 1-0 home defeat of Chicago Fire FC on Oct. 7 in which goalkeeper Tim Melia and center back Winston Reid were the difference makers.
Sunday's hero was Erik Hurtado, who came off the bench in the second half and bagged one of the greatest all-time Sporting goals (enjoy the video above) to seal a 2-1 triumph versus Nashville.
2. The Race is On
Thanks to their recent spurt, Sporting sits a single point behind Western Conference co-leaders Seattle and Portland and eight points ahead of sixth-place FC Dallas. Both teams are well-positioned to reach the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs, as the top eight finishers in the West will punch a postseason ticket.
Aside from finishing above the playoff line, an even more compelling race is developing at the top. The team that sits atop the table at the conclusion of Decision Day on Nov. 8 will have homefield advantage in the playoffs through the conference final.
3. Familiar Foes
Sporting and Dallas have met twice previously this season at Children's Mercy Park. The visitors emerged with four points in those two encounters, including a 1-1 stalemate on Sept. 2 and a simmering 3-2 result on Sept. 19 where there was no love lost between the sides. Dallas forward Franco Jara has made a decisive mark in the series, scoring in the 1-1 draw and notching a brace in his team's victory. Sporting are 0-3-1 versus Dallas in the last four meetings dating back to 2019.
4. Hedge Your Bets
Veteran center back Matt Hedges has played in all but one of Dallas' 15 games this season, but he sustained a muscle injury in a 2-0 loss at Houston on Oct. 7 and will miss Wednesday's encounter against Sporting. Second-year head coach Luchi Gonzalez has a strong cast of defenders to call upon, however, as Dallas' 17 goals allowed are tied for the fewest in the Western Conference. Hedges' most likely replacement is Bressan, a 27-year-old Brazilian with four starts under his belt this season.
5. No Rest for the Weary
On Oct. 3, Sporting began an unprecedented stretch of nine regular season matches in a 30-day period. Vermes' men have passed three tests since then, but the ongoing grind that comes with fixture congestion will almost surely require continued roster rotation. As for Dallas, they'll enter Wednesday with fresh legs after having the weekend off due to their postponement with Minnesota.