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Sunday, June 12, 2011
Imperfect 10s: Rolling FCD hosts slumping KC

By ESPN.com news services

Playing its home games in the scorching Texas heat is far from ideal, but FC Dallas is used to the conditions at Pizza Hut Park. Sporting Kansas City can't make the same claim about its new field.

With temperatures expected to be in the mid-90s Sunday night in Frisco, FC Dallas will try to extend its unbeaten streak to 10 as Sporting KC looks to snap its 10-game winless stretch.

It was in the high 90s last Saturday and the humidity made it like "a sauna" for his team, but FC Dallas coach Schellas Hyndman was pleased with how his players handled the stifling atmosphere in a 1-0 home win over New England.

Marvin Chavez scored in the 69th minute -- his first of the season -- to help Dallas (7-3-4) improve to 6-0-3 since a 3-2 loss at Portland on April 17.

"The weather conditions did not affect us as much," Hyndman told Dallas' official website. "I think we are either used to it or have a little stronger mental strength."

With its first 10 games on the road this season, Sporting Kansas City (1-6-4) has had to keep a positive mental outlook. Finally hosting the inaugural game at Livestrong Sporting Park on Thursday, coach Peter Vermes' team played to a scoreless draw with Chicago.

While there was plenty of anger aimed at referee Michael Kennedy with Omar Bravo not being awarded a penalty kick in the 86th minute after getting tackled inside the penalty area, the club realizes it needs to start scoring. Kansas City has allowed just two goals in the last four matches but has found the back of the net only once during that stretch.

"We're shutting teams down, we're not letting them score," defender Michael Harrington told Kansas City's official website. "I feel like we need to check-up on ourselves as scorers, and me as an attacker, we have to start putting some balls in the nets and start getting some wins."

Sporting KC, winless since a 3-2 victory over Chivas USA on March 19, could face a tough test against Dallas goalkeeper Kevin Hartman, who leads the league with seven shutouts. He made two saves last Saturday for his 100th shutout -- an MLS record.

"It's pretty cool," said Hartman, also the all-time leader in wins (163) and saves (1,325). "The fact I've been able to play 15 years of professional soccer is something that I really don't take for granted."

Backup Eric Kronberg will likely get the start in net for Kansas City with Jimmy Nielsen serving a one-match suspension after drawing a red card Thursday for handling the ball outside the penalty area.

Dallas has won its last two home games against Kansas City by a combined 7-0.

Sporting KC plays 15 of 19 at home following Sunday's match.