The Houston Dynamo were not so happy with the result over the weekend against Real Salt Lake, but the suspensions of Kofi Sarkodie (red card) and Luis Garrido (yellow card accumulation) could provide needed 1st team support for the club's Open Cup campaign against Sporting Kansas City. Throw in the arrival of Cubo Torres and suddenly things don't seem quite so bleak. However, they'll be playing a very difficult Sporting Kansas City side on the road, but with both clubs logging heavy minutes and games this coming weekend, all bets are off for this one.
In our preview of the match we discussed how each team arrived at the Quarterfinals of the US Open Cup, but we wanted to know about how SKC would prepare for this match so we spoke with Cody Bradley of the Blue Testament to get his perspective.
Dynamo Theory: Sporting Kansas City absolutely destroyed FC Dallas in their last Open Cup match in order to advance to the Quarterfinals in a 6-2 effort led by 4 goals from Dom Dwyer. SKC had the luxury of a bye week looming and was able to utilize mostly regular players in their win over FCD. With a game this past Saturday and a game this weekend at Rio Tinto Stadium, what kind of lineup or squad are we going to see in this round of the Open Cup?
The Blue Testament: It is likely we will see some changes to the lineup that started this weekend in MLS play, but it will still be a solid group. Peter Vermes has confidence in everyone in this lineup, so starting other players is not a sign of taking this tournament lightly. I would not be surprised to see Feilhaber and Espinoza get a break in the midfield for Nagamura and Medranda. Options are lacking on defense to switch things up, but hopefully Chance Myers will see his first full 90 minutes. With Zusi out and it being probable there is a rest for Feilhaber, you would have to think both Nemeth and Dwyer get starts. Without those two I don't where any offense would come from. But rookie Connor Hallisey could see a start on the right in place of Jacob Peterson (in place of Zusi). Peter can be very hard to predict, but everyone on this roster has played and shown they belong.
DT: SKC in general this year has performed well despite injuries to key players like Ike Opara and international call-ups to Graham Zusi. What or who has kept the team flowing together, or has it been a team coming together mentality?
TBT: That has been the case all the way back to last season. Injuries and call ups have just been absolutely relentless. This year hasn't even been as bad so this is a cakewalk for Peter's guys. It is definitely a team coming together mentality. They are a big group of friends who want to do well for each other and the coach. Everyone knows what Peter wants from his players, everyone knows their job, and everyone is confident.
Everyone on the team has stepped up obviously, but two guys in particular have been key. Soni Mustivar came in and locked down the ever important holding midfield position, and Tim Melia replaced Luis Marin in goal. Nobody ever thought somebody could compare to Uri Rosell for Sporting KC, but Soni is beginning to do so. Melia was an MLS pool keeper last season and was behind the highly touted newcomer Marin. Marin didn't work out so Melia came in and blew everyone away. Soni and Melia taking the starting jobs precisely lines up with the great run of form that has this team in such a good spot right now. But as I said, everyone has stepped up. Kevin Ellis and his 5'9" self have been so big in the CB spot, and rookies like Amadou Dia have performed admirably as well.
DT: Orlando City SC seems to be loading up on former Dynamo players with Tally Hall, Corey Ashe, Tony Cascio, and now Servando Carrasco as the latest MLS trade featured Carrasco leaving SKC and Amboi Okugo arriving. The experienced Okugo provides coverage at multiple positions and could provide assistance in this game or Saturday's match against RSL (with more training in a new system under his belt). What are the odds we'll see Okugo with SKC against the Dynamo?
TBT: While another body is definitely needed with 3 games this week, I would be very surprised to see him debut. Vermes has never been the kind of guy to do that, no matter who it is. Okugo will have to work his way in, learn the system, and prove he is Sporting Fit. His versatility is welcomed, but based on the team needs right now it looks like he is going to fill in at CB eventually. Kevin Ellis has done probably more than expected but he isn't a real center back. Okugo has played extended time in this league and seen success as a CB.
Too early to tell of course, but most of SKC Nation sees this is a very positive move.
Projected SKC Lineup: (4-3-3) Jon Kempin, Chance Myers, Kevin Ellis, Matt Besler, Marcel De Jong, Soni Mustivar, Paolo Nagamura, Jimmy Medranda, Krisztian Nemeth, Dom Dwyer, Jacob Peterson
Prediction: Sporting KC 3-2 Houston Dynamo
For my answers to Cody's questions hit up The Blue Testament to check them out!