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. US ask Switzerland to extradite seven FIFA officials

    Jul 2, 2015, 7:40 AM EDT

    65th FIFA Congress Previews 65th FIFA Congress Previews

    The U.S. Department of Justice wants to bring FIFA officials accused of corruption to the USA.

  2. Round 3: USA-Japan Women’s World Cup final a familiar matchup

    Jul 2, 2015, 12:59 AM EDT

    150702-Wambach-Sawa Getty Images

    Japan beat the U.S. to win the 2011 World Cup. The U.S. beat Japan to win the 2012 Olympics. Round 3 takes place Sunday in the 2015 Women’s World Cup final.

  3. Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup roundup: Dwyer bags four, RBNY top Cosmos, quarterfinals set

    Jul 2, 2015, 12:28 AM EDT

    Sporting KC's Dom Dwyer (14) heads a ball over the New England Revolution's Jose Goncalves (23) in the first half at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan., on Wednesday, May 20, 2015. (David Eulitt/Kansas City Star/TNS via Getty Images) Getty Images

    A Major League Soccer franchise is going to win the 2015 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.

  4. “She’s in a hard place”: England boss Sampson consoles, praises Bassett after semifinal loss

    Jul 1, 2015, 11:57 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Mark Sampson spoke in detail about the character of Laura Bassett and how he hopes girls in England are inspired for the future.

  5. Bassett’s long journey takes cruel twist, but England women show future is bright

    Jul 1, 2015, 11:11 PM EDT

    EDMONTON, AB - JULY 01:  Laura Bassett of England is comforted by Jo Potter after the FIFA Women's World Cup Semi Final match between Japan and England at the Commonwealth Stadium on July 1, 2015 in Edmonton, Canada.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Full credit to England for an inspiring World Cup, and to Japan for getting to a second straight World Cup final.

  6. Clavicle injury could cost Mexico’s Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez his Gold Cup (video)

    Jul 1, 2015, 10:51 PM EDT

    during practice for the Canadian Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on June 5, 2015 in Montreal, Canada. Getty Images

    Three weeks from tonight are the Gold Cup semifinals, with the final on July 26 in Philadelphia.

  7. The world wants Laura Bassett to know that her own goal is nothing to be ashamed of…

    Jul 1, 2015, 10:11 PM EDT

    during the FIFA Women's World Cup 2015 Semi Final match between Japan and England on Canada Day at Commonwealth Stadium on July 1, 2015 in Edmonton, Canada. Getty Images

    From Brandi Chastain and Jeb Brovsky to total strangers from England and beyond, my goodness, people are trying to console Laura Bassett.

  8. Minnesota United misses MLS stadium deadline; Deputy commissioner speaks out

    Jul 1, 2015, 9:12 PM EDT

    BLAINE, MN -JULY 19: Minnesota United FC defenseman celebrates with fans after scoring a goal on Swansea City in the first half of their friendly soccer match on July 19, 2014 at the National Sports Center in Blaine, Minnesota. Minnesota United FC defeated Swansea City 2-0.(Photo by Andy Clayton-King/Getty Images) Getty Images

    United says it remains committed to bringing MLS to Minnesota, and it’s worth wondering if the rival Minnesota group is hampering progress.

  9. Stoppage-time own goal sinks England, sends Japan to Women’s World Cup final

    Jul 1, 2015, 9:02 PM EDT

    (Getty Images) Getty Images

    Defending champion Japan advances to second straight Women’s World Cup final.

  10. Targeted by Man Utd and other giants, Ilkay Gundogan extends deal with BVB

    Jul 1, 2015, 8:20 PM EDT

    MUNICH, GERMANY - APRIL 28:  Philipp Lahm of Muenchen challenges for the ball with Ilkay Gündogan of Dortmund during the DFB Cup semi final match between FC Bayern Muenchen and Borussia Dortmund at Allianz Arena on April 28, 2015 in Munich, Germany.  (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Bongarts/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Big story for Dortmund, even if it’s a bit under-the-radar.

  11. VIDEO: Donovan talks USWNT, perceived anti-Klinsmann Tweet on “The Dan Patrick Show”

    Jul 1, 2015, 7:30 PM EDT

    Ecuador v United States Getty Images

    Donovan, of course, was left off the World Cup roster last summer by Klinsmann, much to the chagrin of many U.S. fans.

  12. WATCH LIVE: Japan and England duel for World Cup final date with the USWNT

    Jul 1, 2015, 6:45 PM EDT

    AUGSBURG, GERMANY - JULY 05: Sophie Bradley of England is challenged by Azusa Iwashimizu of Japan during the FIFA Women's World Cup 2011 group B match between England and Japan at the FIFA World Cup stadiumon July 5, 2011 in Augsburg, Germany.  (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images) Getty Images

    England’s fairytale run to its first Women’s World Cup semifinal meets the reigning champions in Edmonton on Wednesday

  13. Finally with New York City FC, Lampard’s teammates react after first training session

    Jul 1, 2015, 5:50 PM EDT

    instagram.com/davidvilla instagram.com/davidvilla

    Shay Facey knows Lampard from his time at Manchester City, and wasn’t bashful in praising the situation.

  14. Daley Blind’s father Danny tabbed as Guus Hiddink’s Netherlands successor

    Jul 1, 2015, 5:10 PM EDT

    Daley Blind of Holland, assistant trainer Danny Blind of Holland during the International friendly match between Netherlands and Spain on March 31, 2015 at the Amsterdam Arena in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.(Photo by VI Images via Getty Images) Getty Images

    The legendary Ajax defender will be stepping up from the assistant’s chair to try and rescue Holland’s Euro 2016 fate.

  15. Inter Milan adds Miranda as rebuild continues at San Siro

    Jul 1, 2015, 4:26 PM EDT

    MADRID, SPAIN - MARCH 17: Joao Miranda (L) of Atletico de Madrid wins the header before Stefan Kiessling (R) of Bayer 04 Leverkusen during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 second leg match between Club Atletico de Madrid and Bayer 04 Leverkusen at Vicente Calderon Stadium on March 17, 2015 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images) Getty Images

    He’s the latest addition for Roberto Mancini at the San Siro, along with Monaco midfielder Geoffrey Kondogbia and Granada defender Jeison Murillo.

  16. Stars of CONCACAF: Ranking the top 10 players at the 2015 Gold Cup

    Jul 1, 2015, 3:00 PM EDT

    As we gear up for a massive Gold Cup tournament, here’s a look at the superstars who will be on show in the United States of America.

  17. Done Deals: Swansea sign Eder, Douglas to Bayern, Martinez to Atletico and more

    Jul 1, 2015, 2:20 PM EDT

    FC Bayern Muenchen - Training Session Getty Images

    With the summer transfer window officially open, plenty of deals have started to trickle through. Here’s a roundup of the latest.

  18. VIDEO: Abby Wambach wants Japan in World Cup final for “fairytale ending”

    Jul 1, 2015, 1:50 PM EDT

    USA v Germany: Semi Final - FIFA Women's World Cup 2015 USA v Germany: Semi Final - FIFA Women's World Cup 2015

    USWNT legend Wambach joins the Dan Patrick show to preview the Women’s World Cup final.

  19. World Cup semifinal preview: Defending champs Japan take on England

    Jul 1, 2015, 1:15 PM EDT

    England v Canada Quarter Final - FIFA Women's World Cup 2015 Getty Images

    Can the Three Lionesses cause another upset to set up a clash with the USA in the final?

  20. Radamel Falcao’s family claim he has sealed transfer to Chelsea

    Jul 1, 2015, 12:30 PM EDT

    Falcao AP

    Colombian forward is inching towards a move to Stamford Bridge.

Featured video

PST Extra: Done deals & transfer gossip