Skip to content

MLS playoff preview: Houston Dynamo at Sporting KC

Nov 6, 2012, 3:00 PM EDT

Sporting Kansas City v Houston Dynamo - Eastern Conference Semifinals Getty Images

Wednesday’s game on the big field at Livestrong Sporting Park promises to look nothing like Sunday’s scrappy match on a smaller patch of beaten down grass in Houston.

It will surely still be physical, but a surface more conducive to a skillful game will mean a little more soccer, a little less scuffling for 50-50 balls and scrapping for second balls.

Either way, Sporting KC has its work cut out. Goalkeeper Tally Hall and the Dynamo back line have a two-goal cushion thanks to Sunday’s win in Texas, so a draw will do for a highly confident Dynamo team that knows its way around the MLS playoffs. In fact, even a one-goal loss would suffice.

Kickoff: 9 p.m. ET, Livestrong Sporting Park, MLS Live

Houston leads the total goals series, 2-0

On the Houston Dynamo

  • Houston is 5-1 in the playoffs over the last two years. Let that sink in.
  • Dominic Kinnear’s team was just 3-9-5 on the road this year, with a minus-12 goal difference. But … the Dynamo did go into Chicago last week and come out with well-managed win.
  • More critical in framing this one is Houston’s relative success at Livestrong Sporting Park. They haven’t lost in three appearances since a 3-0 loss last year in Houston’s frist trip to 18-month-old stadium. Houston stunned SKC in last year’s Eastern Conference final and managed two draws at Livestrong this year.
  • Hall was excellent in the September draw (1-1), making seven saves.
  • He’ll need to be on his game again, especially if Jermaine Taylor can’t play. Bobby Boswell’s central partner along the back line limped out of Sunday’s contest and remains questionable, although he did train Tuesday before the team left Houston. Canadian international Andrew Hainault will man the position if Taylor cannot.
  • Few central midfielders will cover as much ground over a match as Ricardo Clark, who sets up at the top of Houston’s midfield diamond, but drops reliably in alongside Adam Moffat as the opposition draws in closer to Houston goal.
  • Kinnear, on his team’s subdued celebration following Sunday’s win and the understanding that nothing has been accomplished just yet: “The music is not boucning off the wall in the locker room. These guys have been through this before. They know what’s happening. This series with Kansas City is 180 minutes and a lot can happen out there. … We can’t let down.”

(MORE: Analysis of Sunday’s match)

On Sporting Kansas City

  • Sporting Kansas City is the Eastern Conference champion and plenty of people within the league and close to it had circled K.C. as the site they suspected MLS Cup 2012 would land. That’s in some doubt now.
  • The home team Wednesday suddenly has a hole to fill. Defensive midfielder Julio Cesar suffered a quadriceps injury late in Sunday’s 2-0 loss. Ordinarily, it wouldn’t be a huge blow because Paulo Nagamura could fill in quite capably. Except that he’s hurt too. So…
  • SKC center backs Aurelien Collin and Matt Besler won more than their share of battles Sunday with Houston’s big stable of big forwards. (Although Collin picked a bad time to get stretched out of position, allowing himself to be turned en route to the Dynamo’s second goal).
  • Striker C.J. Sapong contributed some adequate hold-up work to the effort, and he made the Houston center backs work. But wingers Jacob Peterson and Kei Kamara need to be better Wednesday.
  • To win outright (without the extended period or penalty kicks) SKC will need to score three goals. How many times did they score more than two over a 34-game season? Just three times.
  • Graham Zusi led the league with 15 assists this year; Houston’s Brad Davis tied for fourth with 12.
  • Midfielder Roger Espinoza: “It’s going to be very tough, but it’s not impossible. I’ve seen it happen many, many times. I don’t think I’ve been on a team before that’s done that, but it’s happened before. This is what we play for – to make amazing things happen.”

(MORE: No excuses offered from Peter Vermes)

Bottom line:

It really is about the first goal Wednesday.

If Houston gets that one, Sporting Kansas City’s uphill climb goes from tough to something just this side of impossible.  But if Sporting KC can turn up with the opener, the Blue Hell of Livestrong Sporting Park will be about as loud and blue as you can possibly imagine – and it’s not hard to imagine a second goal dropping in short order as the energy, initiative and motivation soars.

Sporting Kansas City certainly has the ability to carve out a memorable night … but it’s hard to bet against a cushioned, Kinnear-coached team in this one.

Latest Posts
  1. VIDEO: Watch Lionel Messi score 50th goal of season, 401st for Barcelona

    Apr 25, 2015, 2:01 PM EDT

    RCD Espanyol v FC Barcelona - La Liga Getty Images

    Messi now has at least 50 goals in four seasons during his career.

  2. Watch Watford’s team bus learn they’ve been promoted to the Premier League (video)

    Apr 25, 2015, 1:48 PM EDT

    cD05ODdlNmNhY2MwMjRlZWQzNTJhM2ViYTQ1Y2VlY2YzOCZnPTUwYWUwMzI2NGZiNGMxMjhmOGYwY2I2NmVmY2Q0MmJm Getty Images

    Mexico national teamer Miguel Layun posted this video on Twitter, as the club learns its been promoted and the bus goes absolutely bonkers.

  3. VIDEO: Guzan’s colossal error gifts Aguero and Man City an easy 1-0 lead

    Apr 25, 2015, 1:18 PM EDT

    Stoke City v Aston Villa - Premier League Getty Images

    Aguero? He doesn’t miss from there, and the USMNT keeper was left with his head in his hands. It’s 1-0 City at half.

  4. Newcastle United 2-3 Swansea City: Swans roll, Magpies haven’t won since February

    Apr 25, 2015, 12:49 PM EDT

    Britain Soccer Premier League AP

    Swans found goals from Nelson Olivera, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Jack Cork to build a 3-1 lead before Siem de Jong netted late.

  5. Back in the big time: Watford promoted to the Premier League

    Apr 25, 2015, 12:46 PM EDT

    Brighton & Hove Albion v Watford - Sky Bet Championship Getty Images

    The Hornets are back in the PL for just the third time in their history.

  6. Watch Live: Manchester City vs. Aston Villa (Lineups and Live Stream)

    Apr 25, 2015, 12:17 PM EDT

    Aguero Getty Images

    Can the Citizens cement their top four spot? Watch live, here.

  7. Stoke City 1-1 Sunderland: Black Cats enter drop zone despite point

    Apr 25, 2015, 12:14 PM EDT

    Britain Soccer Premier League AP

    USMNT defender/midfielder Geoff Cameron left the game in the 87th minute with an injury.

  8. Crystal Palace 0-2 Hull City: N’Doye’s double hands Tigers huge win

    Apr 25, 2015, 12:04 PM EDT

    Crystal Palace v Hull City - Premier League Getty Images

    Tigers give themselves breathing space from the bottom three with much-needed win.

  9. Burnley 0-1 Leicester City: Foxes move out of drop zone, send Clarets bottom!

    Apr 25, 2015, 11:58 AM EDT

    Burnley v Leicester City - Premier League Getty Images

    Nigel Pearson was fired last month, or so we were led to believe. Now his Foxes have escaped the drop zone with a dramatic win at Turf Moor.

  10. VIDEO: Spurs’ emotional Pochettino on his St. Mary’s return, “I still love Southampton”

    Apr 25, 2015, 11:10 AM EDT

    Southampton v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League Getty Images

    “I was focused on my job but was a very tough and emotional game for me,” said Tottenham’s boss.

  11. Watch Live: Burnley vs. Leicester City (Lineups and Live Stream)

    Apr 25, 2015, 9:47 AM EDT

    Leicester City v Burnley - Premier League Getty Images

    Turf Moor is the place, and Danny Ings will lead the Clarets attack in a quest for safety.

  12. Watch Live: Queens Park Rangers vs. West Ham United (Lineups and Live Stream)

    Apr 25, 2015, 9:45 AM EDT

    Queens Park Rangers v West Bromwich Albion - Premier League Getty Images

    Can the R’s grab a crucial win in the London derby? Watch live online.

  13. Watch Live: Stoke City vs. Sunderland (Lineups and Live Stream)

    Apr 25, 2015, 9:44 AM EDT

    Britain Soccer Premier League AP

    USMNT back Geoff Cameron gets the start at right back, again, for Stoke City.

  14. Southampton 2-2 Tottenham Hotspur: Visitors twice come back from Pelle goals

    Apr 25, 2015, 9:42 AM EDT

    Southampton v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League Getty Images

    Kelvin Davis wasn’t poor, but Saints are clearly missing the steady play of Fraser Forster between the sticks.

  15. Watch Live: West Bromwich Albion vs. Liverpool (Lineups and Live Stream)

    Apr 25, 2015, 9:30 AM EDT

    Balotelli AP

    Can Liverpool keep their faint top four hopes alive? Watch them live online, right here.

  16. Watch Live: Newcastle United vs. Swansea City (Lineups and Live Stream)

    Apr 25, 2015, 9:28 AM EDT

    Britain Soccer Premier League AP

    There will be no Bafetimbi Gomis at all for Swans, while Ki Sung-yeung is relegated to the bench.

Featured video

Should Chelsea be more entertaining?