Sporting KC faces FC Dallas tonight in KCK

Winners of two straight matches, Sporting Kansas City (6-7-7, 25 points) will look to continue their upward surge this Saturday when FC Dallas (8-8-5, 29 points) visits Children’s Mercy Park for a pivotal Western Conference battle at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets for the matchup between MLS charter members remain available at SeatGeek.com, and the first 7,500 fans through the stadium gates will receive a free pair of sunglasses.

FOX Sports Kansas City Plus, FOX Sports Midwest Plus and FOX Sports GO will provide three hours of live matchday coverage beginning at 7 p.m., while Sports Radio 810 WHB and ESPN Deportes KC 1480 AM will air live radio broadcasts. The Final Whistle postgame show will also air immediately afterward on 810 WHB.

Supporters are encouraged to arrive early as former Kansas City great and current U.S. Men’s National Team assistant coach Josh Wolff will be inducted into the Sporting Legends hall of honor during a pre-match ceremony.

The annual Sporting KC Media Game will also take place at halftime, featuring media members from across the Kansas City area.

Sporting approaches Saturday with newfound confidence, having notched both back-to-back wins and consecutive shutouts for the first time this season.

Last weekend’s 3-0 road triumph over Vancouver Whitecaps FC was headlined by Gerso Fernandes, who was involved in all three goals.

In addition to assisting Felipe Gutierrez’s team-best eighth goal of 2019, Gerso struck in the 90th minute and forced an early own goal from Whitecaps defender Ali Adnan. Between the posts, goalkeeper Tim Melia passed Jimmy Nielsen as the winningest goalkeeper in club history with his 58th career regular season victory.

A slew of injuries through the first four months of 2019 have put Sporting’s depth to the test, but manager Peter Vermes’ side enters Saturday with a much-improved bill of health. Long-term absentees Jaylin Lindsey and Rodney Wallace are the only names on the latest injury report, meaning influential midfielder Roger Espinoza could be in line for a highly anticipated return after missing the last three months due to a knee ailment.

Despite an improved injury outlook, Sporting will still have to account for a notable absence in the center of the park as midfielder Ilie Sanchez will serve a one-game suspension for caution accumulation. 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. The suspension will end his streak of 80 straight appearances in all competitions, which began in August 2017.

Four points ahead of ninth-place Sporting and two points above the playoff line in the West, FC Dallas will aim to bounce back from a dramatic 1-0 loss to Minnesota United FC last Saturday at Allianz Field.

Mason Toye scored in stoppage time for the hosts before Minnesota goalkeeper Vito Mannone saved Reto Ziegler’s penalty kick in the dying seconds to preserve the Loons’ win and condemn FC Dallas to their eighth loss of 2019.

Led by first-year head coach Luchi Gonzalez, the club’s former academy director, FC Dallas are 0-5-1 in their last six away games and have yet to earn a road clean sheet this season.

The Texas outfit is 2-7-1 away from home and last prevailed on their travels with an impressive 2-0 result at reigning MLS Cup champion Atlanta United FC on April 20. Dominique Badji and 18-year-old Academy product Jesus Ferreira are tied for the team lead with five goals, while midfielder Michael Barrios is tied for third in MLS with seven primary assists.

FC Dallas took the field on Wednesday for an international friendly versus Spanish club Sevilla FC at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas. Sevilla emerged 3-1 winners in a game where most of Dallas’ starters featured for the first 45 minutes-including Badji, Barrios, Ziegler and emerging American talents Reggie Cannon and Paxton Pomykal.

Sporting is 8-1-2 in its last 11 home meetings with FC Dallas across all competitions, scoring 28 goals and conceding 10. FC Dallas went winless in 10 straight trips to Children’s Mercy Park across all competitions from 2012-2018 before winning 3-2 last July behind a Barrios hat-trick.

Vermes’ men won two of three meetings against Dallas last season in all competitions, including a 3-2 thriller in the 2018 U.S. Open Cup Round of 16 that saw Yohan Croizet bag a breathtaking late volley that eventually won Sporting KC Goal of the Year honors.

The sides would later meet on the penultimate weekend of the 2018 regular season in Frisco, when Sporting struck through Espinoza, Daniel Salloi and Johnny Russell to claim a momentous 3-0 triumph.

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