Dallas faces tough road test at Sporting

Sporting Kansas City continues its nine- game homestand on Saturday when it hosts FC Dallas at Livestrong Sporting Park.

Sporting opened the 2011 season with ten road games, going 1-6-3 before the opening of Livestrong Sporting Park on June 9. Now the club is benefiting from the lop-sided schedule, as Sporting has turned its new stadium into a fortress by posting a 6-1-4 home record.

In its most recent match, Sporting defeated D.C. United 1-0 on Aug. 21 behind a first half goal from Kei Kamara for its second consecutive home win.

The club's superb home form has lifted Kansas City to second place in the Eastern Conference, tallying 36 points from 25 games.

Sporting midfielder Graham Zusi believes his side can contest for the top spot in the East.

"With nine games left, [winning the Eastern Conference title] is absolutely something that we can shoot for, especially because six out of those nine are at home," Zusi said. "It's not out of the question at all."

FC Dallas is also enjoying a successful 2011 campaign. Despite not recording a win in its last three matches, Dallas occupies third place in the West, accumulating 43 points from 26 matches.

The last match for Dallas resulted in a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Western Conference rival Seattle Sounders FC.

"Our players showed a lot of character to continue to play, continue to go forward and continue to put Seattle and Kasey Keller under pressure," said Dallas head coach Schellas Hyndman. "The thing you always have to be concerned about is character and attitude. Tonight we put everything we had on the line and came up a little bit short."

Zach Loyd, who left the match early against Seattle through injury, is questionable for Saturday's tilt with Sporting. Dallas newcomer Jeremy Hall was inserted into the lineup to replace him.

"Kind of quick turnaround for me," said Hall. "I got [to Dallas Friday night] and wasn't really expecting to play, but I got called in, so I had to go in there and do the best I could....[Hyndman] told me to go play. He's seen me play before - that's why they brought me in. They know what I can do, so no excuses."

When these two teams met on June 12, Sporting trounced Dallas 4-1 behind a Zusi brace. Aurelien Collin and Luke Sassano provided additional goals for Sporting, while FC Dallas leading scorer Brek Shea pulled back a consolation goal.