Preview: Sporting, Dynamo square up for playoff rematch
SPORTING KANSAS CITY vs HOUSTON DYNAMO
LIVESTRONG SPORTING PARK, Kansas City, Kan.
July 7, 2012 (WEEK 18, MLS Game #163)
8 p.m. ET (KSMO; FS-Hou/MultiMedios)
A heated battle for Eastern Conference placing is in store on Saturday evening at Livestrong Sporting Park as Sporting Kansas City and the Houston Dynamo meet. Sporting put an end to their short losing run at midweek, coming back for a 3-1 win at the Montreal Impact. The Dynamo are still unbeaten at home this year, reaching a scoreless draw with the Chicago Fire, also at midweek.
REFEREE: Chris Penso. SAR (bench): Chris Strickland; JAR (opposite): Eric Proctor; 4th: John McCloskey
MLS Career: 22 games; FC/gm: 21.9; Y/gm: 3.0; R: 5; pens: 10
- SPORTING KANSAS CITY -- OUT: DF Cyprian Hedrick (L fibula fracture); GK Jon Kempin (R ankle fracture); DF Lawrence Olum (L groin strain); DOUBTFUL: MF Michael Thomas (R ankle sprain); PROBABLE: FW Bobby Convey (L calf strain)
- HOUSTON DYNAMO -- DOUBTFUL: DF Alex Dixon (concussion); MF Calen Carr (L hamstring strain); MF Je-Vaughn Watson (L adductor strain); QUESTIONABLE: DF Geoff Cameron (L hamstring strain)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
- SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: KC: Jimmy Nielsen
- SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: KC: Aurelien Collin, Chance Myers, Julio Cesar ... HOU: Calen Carr, Corey Ashe
ALL-TIME (12 meetings): Sporting 3 wins, 15 goals ... Dynamo 5 wins, 18 goals ... Ties 4
AT KANSAS CITY (6 meetings): Sporting 2 wins, 9 goals ... Dynamo 3 wins, 8 goals ... Ties 1
RETURN MATCHES: 7/18: Houston Dynamo vs. Sporting Kansas City, 7:30 p.m. CT; 9/14: Sporting Kansas City vs. Houston Dynamo, 7:30 p.m. CT (NBC SN)
LAST YEAR (MLS)
7/16: HOU 1, KC 1 (Collin 90 -- Davis 8)
9/10: KC 3, HOU 0 (Bunbury 9, 73; Sapong 79)
- The game is a rematch of last year's Eastern Conference Championship, won 2-0 by the Dynamo at Livestrong Sporting Park. It was the second time the teams had met with a trip to the MLS Cup Final on the line (also 2007, also won 2-0 by Houston).
- After winning the first meeting ever between the clubs, April 8, 2006 at Robertson Stadium, Kansas City has not won in Houston. The Dynamo have won three of the six MLS league and cup meetings since at home (with three draws).
- In league play, Sporting have a three-game unbeaten streak alive vs. Houston, winning their last two meetings in Kansas City.
- Coaches record: Peter Vermes vs. HOU: P5 W2 L1 D2 ... Dominic Kinnear vs. KC: P18 W7 L5 D6
SPORTING KANSAS CITY
Sporting Kansas City put an end to their two-game losing run, storming back for a 3-1 win against the Montreal Impact on Wednesday evening at Stade Saputo. Sporting are in second place in the Eastern Conference with 32 points from 17 matches.
HIGHLIGHTS: KC roar back for win over Impact
- The Impact took the lead four minutes into the second half. Felipe ran onto a Zarek Valentin through ball on the right side of the area and he cut back a low cross which evaded everyone in the box. It fell perfectly for Patrice Bernier, who came charging through the center and unleashed a first-time to the back of the net.
- But Sporting were level six minutes later when Bernier was whistled for a hand ball in the penalty area. Kei Kamara stepped up to convert the penalty.
- Yet another scramble in the Impact's penalty area in the 75th minute saw Montreal captain Davy Arnaud foul KC substitute Soony Saad. Referee Sorin Stoica pointed to the spot once again, and this time it was Graham Zusi's turn to convert and put the visitors ahead 2-1.
- Sporting added a third eight minutes from full time. Roger Espinoza's cross from the left found Jacob Peterson on the opposite side and his hard drive deflected off a defender and flew past goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts for the capper.
- Sporting head coach Peter Vermes made two changes to the team that dropped a 1-0 decision to the Chicago Fire at Livestrong Sporting Park. Matt Besler came into the back four for Lawrence Olum, and Paulo Nagamura started in midfield in place of Julio Cesar.
- SPORTING KANSAS CITY (4-2-3-1): Jimmy Nielsen - Chance Myers, Aurelien Collin, Matt Besler, Seth Sinovic - Roger Espinoza, Paulo Nagamura (Peterson Joseph 86) - Kei Kamara (Soony Saad 69), Graham Zusi, C.J. Sapong - Teal Bunbury (Jacob Peterson 46).
- Sporting put an end to a three-game winless run, winning their first league game since June 16.
- The penalty kicks were the first of the season converted by Sporting KC. Kei Kamara saw a penalty saved by FC Dallas goalkeeper Kevin Hartman on March 25.
- "It's not the ordinary thing to get two penalties on the road, but that happens. I think we deserved both of them," said Sporting manager Peter Vermes. "I saw the action and it was a handball. Unfortunately it is, but it happens to all of us in the game. And on the other play, the player wasn't playing the ball. He tackled the man and you can't do that."
- Kamara was taken off between the two penalties, so Graham Zusi stepped up to take the second.
- "He could have taken the first one if he'd wanted to," Vermes said. "I like the way he stepped up and took it, and he finished it really well."
- The first penalty kick was KC's first goal in 319 minutes, their longest goalless drought of the season, the first since Jacob Peterson's eighth-minute goal June 20 vs. Seattle.
- "It was one of those ugly games," said Kamara. "But it's finally about time when we can have an ugly game and then get points from it. So we'll take the points back home and get back to what we've been doing."
- Jacob Peterson scored his second goal in his last three appearances. "Jacob is continually getting better with understanding how our formation plays, and his role and responsibility," Vermes said. "I'm really happy for him. His work ethic when he came in was tremendous, and that's one thing that really helped us get back in the game. The scoring was just the icing on the cake."
- Peterson came on as a halftime substitute in place of striker Teal Bunbury as Sporting made a tactical shift.
- "We changed our style defensively. We were more compact, did better pressure, so they didn't get a lot of occasions," said defender Aurelien Collin. "We were better at blocking the passes between the lines. And then when everybody started to get tired, we waited for them to play, played on our strength and won a lot of air balls and second balls."
- Paulo Nagamura returned to the starting lineup in place of J˙lio Cesar after being unavailable for the previous four games. He was stretched off the field after 86 minutes, but it was not a recurrence of his groin strain. "He was cramping," Vermes said. "So it was time to take him out."
On the Spot: Which actor would play you?
The Houston Dynamo continued their undefeated run in their new ground, reaching a scoreless draw with the Chicago Fire at BBVA Compass Stadium on Tuesday evening. The Dynamo are in fifth place in the Eastern Conference with 24 points from 17 games.
HIGHLIGHTS: Chicago, Houston finish up scoreless
- The teams combined for just three shots on target for the evening. Chicago's Marco Pappa tested Tally Hall in the 12th minute with a left-footed strike from outside that box -- the only chance the Dynamo 'keeper had to deal with.
- Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson made two saves on the evening, both in the final 45 minutes, greatly threatened by neither.
- Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear made one change to the team that got a late winner for a 2-1 win against Philadelphia Union at BBVA Compass Stadium. Adam Moffat came into the midfield in place of Geoff Cameron.
- HOUSTON DYNAMO (4-3-3): Tally Hall - Andre Hainault, Jermaine Taylor, Bobby Boswell, Corey Ashe - Luiz Camargo (Brian Ownby 69), Adam Moffat, Brad Davis - Boniek Garcia, Will Bruin (Brian Ching 65), Macoumba Kandji (Colin Clark 81).
- The Dynamo kept a clean sheet for the first time in nearly two months, since a scoreless draw with the Portland Timbers on May 15.
- "That's the positive you take out of it, negating their chances," Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear said. "The back four's been solid. We're not giving up chances in the run of play, which is nice to see."
- Said center back Bobby Boswell: "We gave up seven goals in two games during a stretch and that's not us. Tonight was a good night for us in terms of keeping the ball out of the back of the net and limiting their chances. We just have to get ready for Kansas City, another team who can put a lot of goals up on you if you aren't accountable."
- The Dynamo faced just one attempt at goal from Chicago, a season-low for the Orange this season.
- "We've always prided ourselves in being tough defenders and honest workers ... and taking responsibility for our actions in the defensive end," Davis said. "[Kinnear] puts, not necessarily pressure, but expects a lot of us and we expect to give that to him. I think it's being accountable for the work and organization and staying in a good defensive block. Not giving a team anything easy ... That's what championship teams do."
- While Houston were held without a goal for a second time in their new home, they did remain unbeaten in league play (4-0-3) at BBVA Compass Stadium.
- "I thought we had some good looks in the first half. I think as the game wore on, they went the way we thought they would," said Kinnear. "They sat in deep and tried to break on us. They defend well. They take out passing lanes, so it's important to try and get that first goal to try and open the game and unfortunately that didn't happen tonight."
- The Dynamo are unbeaten in league play in Houston since last June 18, and 10 of their games over the second half of the season will be at BBVA Compass Stadium.
- "One of the big things for us is to continue being undefeated at home," said midfielder Brad Davis. "We haven't had as many games yet, but whenever you defend your home, that's a good thing."
- Geoff Cameron missed out on the contest after suffering a hamstring strain in the days leading up to the match.
Taking the Lead: Brian Ching, Houston Dynamo