As the playoff chances grow dimmer and dimmer the Houston Dynamo have a chance at redemption against Conference rival Sporting Kansas City. This won't be an easy game, as Dynamo Theory's Justin Jerkins points out in our preview for the upcoming match. The Dynamo are hoping to keep their playoff hopes alive and make up for a poor showing in Columbus last week. Kansas City on the other hand had a tough game against D.C. United and are hoping to avoid dropping two games at home in a row. I talked with Ben Gartland of The Blue Testament to see how things have changed since last the last time these teams met and to discuss the rivalry that has developed between the two over the years.
Dynamo Theory: SKC dropped the Dynamo 2-0 in Houston in June. How will this team differ from the one that bested us once already this year?
The Blue Testament: There will be a lot more players available for selection, namely Graham Zusi and Matt Besler, who were both with the National Team at that point. Sporting has also added defensive midfielder Jorge Claros and they've been forced to recall Jon Kempin from Oklahoma City to be the starting keeper. The team overall seems better than the team that played the Dynamo back in June since they don't have as many defensive issues, plus having Graham Zusi on the wing adds a lot to the attack. Sporting has been on and off the past couple of weeks, however, so we'll just have to see which team shows up to this match.
DT: Last week's matches did not go well for either side and I fully expect each team to come back motivated to win. That being said, Houston is entering the Sporting Park and has only won once on the road all year. What are some ways that the Dynamo could hope to earn a result in a tough place to play?
BT: Well, Houston's tendency to give up goals this goal does not bode well for them considering Sporting's improved front three this year and their high pressure system. The good news for the Dynamo is that Sporting KC has been very underwhelming at home and have a defensive liability at right back in Igor Juliao, who will be going up against Brad Davis. Teams have been able to come into Sporting Park and put numbers behind the ball, waiting for an opportunity to catch the wing backs too far forward. Kinnear is a coach that will grind out a result if needed so I could definitely see him employing this strategy, especially with the Davis-Juliao matchup.
DT: Dynamo supporters often feel like a rivalry exists between Sporting Kansas City and our men in orange. Is it fair to call these teams rivals and if so what are some of your favorite moments when these two teams go head to head?
BT: I would definitely say that Sporting Kansas City and the Dynamo are rivals. The Dynamo broke Sporting fans hearts in 2011 when they came into Sporting Park and cost the team a berth in the MLS Cup right when the momentum of the rebrand has reached a peak. Then, they infuriated Sporting supporters the very next year when they were able to hold on to the advantage they gained in the first leg of the Eastern Conference semifinals. As for my favorite moments, well last year's MLS Cup felt amazing to finally have a champion in Kansas City. It was made even sweeter the fact that Sporting was able to beat the Dynamo on the way to the Cup. Not to mention Sporting giving Houston their first loss at BBVA Compass Stadium and Aurelien Collin scoring a late goal during our unbeaten run in 2011. Both of these teams play a physical style and it elevates the game each time these teams play. If/When Houston moves to the Western Conference, that one game a season between the two squads is going to be spectacular.
My responses to Ben's questions can be found on The Blue Testament's website. Please be sure to check it out and be nice!