Thursday, September 08, 2016

Match Day 29: Back Home

After a week off after a stretch of five games in 15 days, Sporting Kansas City return to Children's Mercy Park and MLS action tomorrow when they welcome the Houston Dynamo for a Western Conference match up. Both teams have had their troubles this season, the Dynamo more so than Sporting, but the Dynamo have won both match ups between the two teams so far this season, both by two goals, a 2-0 league win back in May and a 3-1 win in the US Open Cup in late June.

The Dynamo now travel to Kansas City and will be looking to claim just their second road win of the season. Houston actually won their last road game, 2-1 over the San Jose Earthquakes at Avaya Stadium. Unfortunately, that's been their only win in their last nine league games as they've gone 1-3-5 in that stretch. While Houston have a slim chance of still making the playoffs this year, at this point they're starting to look more towards 2017, and that means players fighting for their jobs and interim head coach Wade Barrett is fighting to get the full time job with the club.  Unfortunately the Dynamo haven't exactly done great since relieving Owen Coyle of his position, Barrett has gone just 2-4-8 since taking over.

Kansas City is back home where the club has won nine games this season, tied for third in the league behind Dallas and New York. They've also won six straight at home, which should give the team and fans some confidence heading into this game. Also giving confidence is the lack of injuries, with just Lawrence Olum and the perpetually injured Justin Mapp having not participated in training this week. That should give Peter Vermes plenty of options, especially with a Champions League game at home coming on Tuesday. Tomorrow though I'd expect Vermes to throw out his best 11 to get all three points in league play tomorrow, although the club will be without the suspended Jimmy Medranda who was sent off against Philadelphia. The biggest question though for KC may be who starts in goal. While Tim Melia is the starter (and who I'd expect to start tomorrow) he looked very rusty in goal for the Swope Park Rangers last week. While Alec Kann turned in a solid performance last time out against Philadelphia.

Zusi - Dwyer - Peterson
Espinoza - Feilhaber
Sinovic - Besler - Opara - Abdul-Salaam

Number to Remember - 5 - That's how many years it will be since KC last won a home league game against the Dynamo. KC's last home win against Houston was a 3-0 win back on September 10th of 2011 when a Teal Bunbury brace led KC to a big win over the Dynamo. KC is 0-1-4 against the Dynamo since that win in league play.

Key Match Up - Benny Feilhaber vs Ricardo Clark - Clark has been one of the more consistent defensive midfielders in the league over his career. He's not always been a flashy player but he's always been a guy who shuts things down in the middle of the field. With Feilhaber he'll have to do it without allowing KC too many set pieces, which Feilhaber can punish from.

PREDICTION - Facing the last place team, at home, while that team has just one away win on the season, at the same time you're fighting to keep your playoff position ahead of a chasing pack. Really this is a game that Kansas City must win. A loss tomorrow is something that would be a blow to the club as they head into the final few weeks. While it won't kill their playoff chances, it will certainly make things a lot tighter for Sporting KC, and with just two home games left after tomorrow, and KC's poor road form, the team needs to get as many points at home as possible. That said, Houston isn't a very good team, and for all the issues KC have on the road they have been strong at home during their six game winning streak. I think tomorrow they get the job done against the visitors.

SKC - 3 (Dwyer, Feilhaber, Zusi)
HOU - 1 (Bruin)

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