Kansas City is in a must win situation against the Houston Dynamo tomorrow, and a comprehensive win at that. After losing the first leg in Houston on Sunday, Sporting will need to win by 2 goals just to force extra time, and 3 goals to win the series before PKs. There is no away goals rule, so a 3-1 win is just as good as a 2-0 win.
It's not going to be an easy game for KC though. The Dynamo have won three of the last five games between the two teams, the other two results, KC got draws. In those five games, KC has scored a total of two goals, while conceding 7. Dominic Kinnear and Houston have realized that to counteract Kansas City's high pressure game is to be just as physical and counter KC's high pressure with their own high pressure, while clogging the midfield. That strategy forced KC to play more out of the back which they definitely didn't look comfortable with. With a two goal advantage Houston can sit back a little more and force KC to use all the energy. With the Dynamo on their 3rd game in 8 days, conserving energy will be key.
Kansas City is having injury issues at the exact wrong time for them. Today in the weekly press conference, Peter Vermes confirmed that Paulo Nagamura will miss tomorrow's game as he continues to recover from his ankle injury. Not only that, but now Julio Cesar looks set to miss the game as well after picking up an injury late in the game on Sunday. Cesar also looks very likely to miss the game. That puts two of KC's starting midfielders on the sideline. The big question is who replaces them. Graham Zusi seems likely to remain in the midfield, dropping Roger Espinoza back a bit. The player who will take Cesar's role will speak volumes on how Vermes will play the game. He could insert Lawrence Olum who would be closer to a like for like sub with Cesar. Or he could insert Oriol Rosell or Peterson Joseph for a little more offense. For me I think you have to insert Olum. While you lose a little offense, I think that pushing Espinoza further back into Cesar's holding role will hurt his game, keeping him from playing more of the play winning role that his been so successful for him this year.
Myers - Collin - Besler - Sinovic
Olum - Espinoza
Peterson - Sapong - Kamara
Number to Remember - 3 - That's the number of goals that KC needs to win by to win the series against the Dynamo tomorrow night. KC has also lost 3 of their last 4 playoff games to the Dynamo, all 3 by a 2-0 scoreline. In fact all 4 of their last 4 playoff losses have been by a 2-0 scoreline.
Key Match Up - CJ Sapong vs Bobby Boswell - Boswell completely marked Sapong out of the game in the first match up in Houston. Sapong was virtually non-existent, and for a period of time you forgot he was even on the field. For KC to be successful tomorrow night, Sapong has to play a much, much bigger role.
PREDICTION - Houston hasn't been a good road team over the past few months, they've lost 4 of their last 6 road games. Those 4 road games they lost each by 2 goals (2-0 at New York, 3-1 at Chicago, 3-1 at Philly, 2-0 at CO). Their other two road games were 1-1 at KC, and 2-1 win at Chicago in the playoffs. So Houston's road form is certainly something that could be in KC's favor. And while Houston tied both games in KC this year, it's not completely out of the realm of possibility for KC to pull off the win. An early goal and the series turns on it's head. The longer this game goes scoreless, the more comfortable the Dynamo will get and the deeper they're likely to sit. And heaven help KC if they concede to Houston. I'm just not sure if KC can punch in two goals against the Dynamo.
SKC - 1 (Kamara)
HOU - 0