Five games unbeaten. It’s not a monumental feat, but it means that Sporting Kansas City will be confident in adding to that run of form as Oscar Pareja and FC Dallas grace Sporting Park on Friday.
Whereas Sporting are unbeaten in five, two of the five matches have been at home and are the only wins for SKC over that time frame. Dallas’ run of form is inconsistent in the past five games at best, recording a win, a loss, and a draw away from Frisco. A 2-2-1 overall away record is what Dallas brings to Sporting Park.
In fact, Dallas hasn’t won at KC since 2011. Last year’s identical fixture saw Matt Hedges and Aurelien Collin exchange late headers for a one-all draw.
Collin’s departure hasn’t done any favors for Kansas City’s defense in 2015. Once touted as a fairly unbreakable force that only allowed 30 goals in the entire 2013 season, and conceding 41 in 2014. As of now they have allowed 13 goals in twelve matches, including five shutouts, three occurring within the confines of Sporting Park.
But KC’s defense is makeshift at best. Recent injuries to Ike Opara, Marcel de Jong, and Seth Sinovic have further destabilized the back line. This should provide Blas Perez ample room to duplicate his brace against Kansas City back in March.
Dallas’ offense, especially Blas, should be looking to rebound back to its lethal self after a dismal 2-1 loss to Montreal, filled with untaken chances in the second half. Blas Perez was centrally guilty on two occasions late in the match. If anyone has an ax to grind, or at least a reason to rediscover the back of the net, it is him. Fabian Castillo, who hasn’t scored or assisted in three matches, has just enough reason to do the same. More worrisome is that the pacey Colombian didn’t train yesterday (5/27) and is as questionable as ever for Friday.
Fabian’s absence may prove to be key for Kansas City. Dallas was terrifyingly lethal on the counter against Vermes’ side in 2015 initial clash. It is more than evident that Castillo’s pace remains unmatched in MLS and will be one less thing for SKC’s makeshift back line to ponder. Furthermore, Mauro Diaz will face yet another physical central midfield with Roger Espinoza in command. Without Castillo to draw attention away on the flanks, it may be a torrid time for Diaz in the midst of KC’s triangle center midfield.
Equally, Dom Dwyer might be absent from Friday night’s action with a neck injury. It’s a boon for Dallas, but only a slight one, given the form of Hungarian international Krisztian Nemeth and the potential return of Graham Zusi. Furthermore, Dallas hasn’t kept a clean sheet on the road since its first foray outside of North Texas at Philadelphia.
Overall, this second encounter between the two teams will still be definitive. Dallas, given their attack and relatively unchanged squad since 2014, is expected to continue to punch above its weight, even on the road. Kansas City is fully expected to continue its five game unbeaten run and erase the memory of March and April’s struggles. Benny Feilhaber is on pace to have his best year in MLS thus far, leading the league in assists with seven. If the Dallas midfield triumvirate fails to respect Feilhaber’s creativity it will add more fire to an already heated environment in the midst of the Cauldron’s Sporting Park.