It seems like it was just yesterday that FC Dallas and Sporting Kansas City played in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Round of 16 and Yohan Croizet smashed in the game-winner for SKC’s 3-2 victory.
That June 16 match lives on in the minds of FC Dallas players, and the memories are conjured as they prepare to travel to Children’s Mercy Park for a Saturday night rematch — this time with league implications at stake.
“After that SKC game in Open Cup, we said, ‘We’re going to wait for you guys in league play,'” FCD right back Reggie Cannon said. “We got an unlucky draw playing them there. We haven’t gotten a win there for a long time. It’s a tough place to play at. My first game, I was struggling and was just trying to find my bearings, but this time around, it’s going to be different.”
Dallas (11-3-6, 39 points) is first in the Western Conference, while Kansas City (9-5-6, 33 points) is third. The game has picked up some traction nationally, too. ESPN announced earlier this week the network will pick up the game for broadcast.
“We have played many, many games [at Children’s Mercy Park] in the last three years,” head coach Oscar Pareja said. “We tied two games there and also had the opportunity to win one of them. When they came here at home, we beat them as well. At this point, we think it’s important for us to use this energy and this momentum we have with the team and keep doing the right things. Indeed, they’re a good side, but we’re going to compete hard.”
Captain and defender Matt Hedges talked about that last match and the club’s performance, believing it was unlucky. Now, he said the team is seeking to set the record straight.
“I thought we had a decent performance when we were there,” Hedges said. “We had times where we played pretty poorly there, but I don’t think that was one of them. I think we should be able to build on that and use that as motivation because I thought it was a close game and I thought we could have definitely won.”
Playing against SKC once before this year helps Dallas pick up on head coach Peter Vermes’ tendencies. Usually running the 4-3-3, Sporting has one of the more underrated players in the league in Ilie Sanchez, who helps control the middle of the park.
“Obviously, they work hard and try to clog the middle,” Hedges said. “They have three guys in the middle who are good players. That’s kind of their thing. Working hard and using the crowd to their advantage a lot, because it’s always packed there. We have to be aware of that.”
Cannon noted SKC’s youth and desire to catch Dallas in the standings as two major factors going into the clash.
“They’re bringing up a lot of young guys to start in that lineup and they’re getting them experience,” Cannon said. “I think the team is rallying up around those young guys and it’s giving them a lot of momentum. They’re coming for our position. We’re at the top of the Western Conference and they’re right behind us. It’s going to be a really tough game.”
Where: Children’s Mercy Park (Kansas City, Kansas)
When: July 28, 9:00 PM EST
Broadcast: ESPN; Radio- FCDallas.com/Radio (English), 1270 AM (Spanish)