Preview: Houston, Sporting open series in rematch of 2011 Conference final
HOUSTON DYNAMO v SPORTING KANSAS CITY
Sun., Nov. 4, BBVA Compass Stadium (3:30 pm ET/2:30 pm CT; NBC)
REFEREE: Edvin Jurisevic
SAR (bench): Chris Strickland; JAR (opposite): Adam Garner;
4th: Fotis Bazakos
INJURY REPORT: HOUSTON DYNAMO -- NONE REPORTED ... SPORTING KANSAS CITY -- OUT: FW Teal Bunbury (L knee ACL tear); DF Cyprian Hedrick (L fibula fracture); MF Paulo Nagamura (L ankle sprain); PROBABLE: MF Julio Cesar (R quad strain); MF Roger Espinoza (R ankle sprain)
WARNINGS: HOU: Brad Davis, Tally Hall (suspended next yellow card)
LEAGUE HEAD-TO-HEAD:KC 3 wins, 17 GF ... HOU 6 wins, 21 GF ... Ties 6
2012 HEAD-TO-HEAD: HOU 1 win, 3 GF ... KC 0 wins, 2 GF ... 2 ties
AT BBVA COMPASS STADIUM:
7/18: HOU 2, KC 1 (Carr 25, 79 ñ Kamara 41)
MLS CUP PLAYOFFS: HOU 2 wins, 4 GF ... KC 0 wins, 0 GF ... 0 ties
- The Dynamo continued their quality postseason road performance in the win in Chicago. A year ago, they won twice on the road in the MLS Cup Playoffs before falling in MLS Cup 2011 at LA.
- "I think especially in the first half, that was the best we've played in a while," head coach Dominic Kinnear said. "Good movement off the ball, creating chances and defending very well. We came out in the second half and got off to a great start. Obviously you know Chicago's going to make a push which they did and Tally [Hall] made some big saves and defended pretty well."
- Will Bruin scored his first two postseason goals and became the third player in Dynamo playoff history to score two goals in a game, joining Paul Dalglish (2006) and Brian Ching (2007).
- "I'm glad he had the goals because he works ever so hard out there for the team," Kinnear said. "He's going to get all the praise for the two goals, and rightly so." Said Bruin: "It's been such a long season that it's nice to have that mojo back come playoff time. I want to get out there and play. It was fun and hopefully there's a lot more to go."
- Bruin also now has 14 goals in all competitions this season, equaling the club record set in both 2006 and 2008 by Ching.
- "He and Calen [Carr] had some good plays [in Chicago]. They ran well off each other. But Will, 12 goals [in the season] and then two goals to start the playoffs is good for him. He does a lot of things right up there. I think hitting the target was good for him."
- Brad Davis collected his sixth playoff assist in 17 career postseason matches. He was making his return to playoff action after missing last year's MLS Cup, when he suffered a thigh injury in the Eastern Conference Championship vs. Sporting KC.
- "In the first half, I thought the midfield was very good," Kinnear said. "Possessing the ball, defending and closing down gaps and getting on to second balls; I thought they played very well."
- The Dynamo also move into a first-ever postseason game at BBVA Compass Stadium, trying to match the Galaxy's record a year ago of not losing over the entirety of the 2011 season at home, including MLS Cup 2011.
- "It's one of those were we have to take it step by step and this is the first step. ... There are no easy games and we knew if we won this game we were heading towards Kansas City. They are a good team. Itís going to be a tough test for us,î said Kinnear.
SPORTING KANSAS CITY
- One year ago, Sporting KC ended their season with a match against the Houston Dynamo -- a 2-0 loss in the Eastern Conference Championship at Livestrong Sporting Park. And this season, they have yet to defeat the Dynamo, with a loss and two draws in three league meetings.
- "They're a good team," SKC manager Peter Vermes said, ìbut I don't look at it as, 'We haven't beaten them.' I look at it as, 'We have a challenge in front of us, and we'll set up a game plan, and I think we have enough guys that we can perform and execute.'î Said forward Kei Kamara: "It's an even slate. We play at their place, they play at our place. Those other games are past, and now it's all about getting ready for these games."
- Midfielder Paulo Nagamura was pulled out in the first half of the season finale, for what was thought to be a precaution. But Nagamura is expected to miss the first leg of the conference semifinals.
- "It's a serious ankle sprain,î Vermes said. ìI'm very doubtful for our first game. Very doubtful. So it's really going to be when he gets better and when he can play through.î
- In Nagamura's place, Jacob Peterson is likely to get the start. Peterson came on for Nagamura when he was injured in the season finale vs. Philadelphia, and scored his fourth goal of the season
- "You could see when he came in ... he was back to the form from when he kind of went on a tear," Vermes said of Peterson. "You can see that he's back to that ñ and it took him a while, coming back from the injury that he had."
- After missing the final two matches after suffering an ankle injury, Roger Espinoza is expected to be available for the playoff opener.
- C.J. Sapong comes into the postseason having scored four goals and recording his only two assists of the season, over the final seven league matches.
- "I set a benchmark for myself to do better than I did last year. I had hoped to get double digits, but I finished one away," said Sapong. "I do feel like I had more of an impact on the field this year than I did last year."
- While Kei Kamara hasn't added to his 10 goals since Aug. 26, he did have three assists in the final four games. "I've said to him many times -ñ when he wants to run at people, he can be the most dominant player in the league," said Vermes.
LAST MEETING: Houston 2, Sporting KC 1