It’s tough to underplay the elation felt by many MLS supporters looking at the successes of LA and FC Dallas’ newest host, Sporting Kansas City, midweek in CCL action. But this hard fought campaign by the reigning MLS champions may subdue an always-tough SKC side when FCD visits Saturday. Midweek bouts against the likes of current Liga MX leaders Cruz Azul aren’t going to do the body any favors preparing for a weekend match; it’s safe to say.
This leaves Kansas City threadbare. At least they will be potentially threadbare. It’s not that their depth is absent; quite the contrary, actually. But it will be expected for the likes of potentially Besler, Sapong, and even Graham Zusi to see time on the bench in favor of Ike Opara, Sal Zisso, and Paulo Nagamura.
Take into account the midweek CCL success and toss the last gasp loss in Seattle last Saturday on the flames. It will be SKC’s MLS home opener, and a match that they’ll feel is as winnable as their opposition does.
For reasons stated above, FCD can barrel into Kansas City with confidence and without reservations. They might as well. The defensive issues that have arisen with George John missing from the lineup (which he is still weeks away from playing) won’t have solved themselves. This is not to say Moises Hernandez, John’s replacement, is a poor backup, but it is saying that FCD were poorly organized in the back twice on two open play goals from Montreal in the past week. Weaknesses are bare, but they may not be as exposed as they could be with a weakened SKC lineup on the horizon.
Can the FCD attack shine as it did last Saturday? Mauro Diaz has become in one match what everyone hoped he would be. Few things can be said about other attackers in Frisco over the past four years. Does anyone remember Pipico? We’d like to not. But what Pareja has done with the FCD attack is retooled it and given it license to move forward with a little bit of disregard. That unbridled confidence has lacked in Frisco for so long, and frankly if the goals pour in there may not be much to care about in the result. Remember, this is a work in progress.
But a result against the reigning champs is nothing to downplay. Given the two solitary wins FCD managed on the road in 2013 a victory would be outstanding, and even a draw would be seen just as such. SKC will not be pushovers. They never are.
But they do need to fear an FCD attack that has confidence. Fabian Castillo’s long-awaited rise hopefully has come nigh with Pareja’s return. Mauro Diaz has a nearly gilded reputation after his performance against Montreal, and has shown that he can net a free kick or two. Blas Perez will be as industrious as ever. If he sees more time, Andres Escobar could provide the pace to breakdown one of the stingiest defenses over the past two MLS seasons. Thank goodness Hendry Thomas should be healthy this week to anchor the midfield and provide coverage for this attack. He, once again, will be key.
A road victory would be immense. It may also be a symbolic step forward for Dallas, who has been fairly miserable on the road for the past three years. Simply put, if there is any time to visit Kansas City, this would be it. And if all else fails, just attack. The Frisco faithful haven’t seen rampant attacking for a couple years now. We’ll sort the rest out by midseason.
(image courtesy of USA Today Sports Images)