The Houston Dynamo were able to produce an inspiring win against the LA Galaxy following a regular season loss to Real Salt Lake on the road and a crash out of the US Open Cup handed to them by Sporting Kansas City. The Dynamo, now rested with many players returning their way, can attempt to string together a winning streak against the club that knocked them out of the Open Cup, SKC.
In our preview of the match we discussed our last heated match against SKC, the impact of Giles Barnes and DaMarcus Beasley returning, and even the condition of the field, but we wanted to know more about what makes SKC so formidable and a few memorable moments between our teams, so we spoke with Cody Bradley of the Blue Testament to get his perspective on his club.
Dynamo Theory: With Matt Besler, Graham Zusi, and MVP candidate Benny Feilhaber having played in the MLS All-Star game, how does Peter Vermes manage his team considering the mid-week friendly match?
The Blue Testament: Always hard to predict with Peter, but I wouldn't be surprised if both Feilhaber and Zusi were given some rest. In the RSL match, PV had Benny on the bench the first half. But then Peter must have remembered that he is in fact, Benny Feilhaber... so he brought him on in the 2nd half. It could be a very similar situation this weekend. But it would be nice if SKC could lock it down so Benny (and Zusi) can actually get some real rest. Besler, however, is really the only CB left and just doesn't have much of a choice in the matter. But Besler is always fit and ready to play.
This team prides itself on the depth and having confidence in every player on the field. So if PV wants to rest a guy or two, there is quality all throughout the squad. This will be a solid lineup that is ready to get back to winning ways after dropping points at RSL.
DT: Sporting Kansas City has not lost at home all year, and while SKC hasn't been poor on the road, they've been hardly dominant away from Sporting Park. What makes Sporting Park such an advantageous place to play, and why hasn't SKC been able to produce a bit more away from home?
TBT: The stadium itself is what makes it so advantageous. It's beautiful and professional at every turn for the players. It is compact. The fans are right on top of the players. Keepers can hear full conversations being had in the front row of the Cauldron. The chanting and the singing absolutely do not stop the entire game. It is "Relentless" (as the hashtag went).
The stadium is wonderful, and then it gets filled with Kansas Citians who have always had an affinity for soccer. This town is incredibly loyal and passionate about the sports teams here. And then on top of all that, what makes it so difficult to play there, is just plain and simply a fantastic squad that plays for their coach and for each other.
As for the quality away from home... it is hard for me to see it like that. They have been hit very hard by injuries and call ups again this season. Considering the lack of experience and backups on the back line, I think everyone in KC has to be pleased that the loss to RSL was just the 2nd loss in 3 months. That match was with a very tired and depleted team and the loss before that was an incredibly unlucky own goal that took 2 points from the team. So the home record is fantastic and if they can keep picking up points on the road here and there, KC is going to in the Supporters' Shield hunt at the end of the season.
DT: The Houston Dynamo moved to the Eastern Conference back in 2011 which was the same year as the SKC rebrand and since then our clubs have had some of the most fierce, competitive, and entertaining matches around. What are some of your favorite, hated, or memorable moments between our two sides?
TBT: Well the hated moments have led to my most memorable moment in this match up. The two years before meeting in the 2013 playoffs, the Dynamo were the side to eliminate Sporting KC. It was tough to lose to the same team like that, but it set up an incredible Eastern Conference Final. The first leg was away at Houston and the teams fought and scrapped to a scoreless draw. Then in the 2nd leg Houston scored the first goal just a few minutes into the game. One thing that must be noted about this match is that Benny Feilhaber and Dom Dwyer were both still trying to prove themselves as starters for Peter. Feilhaber wasn't all the way Sporting Fit and Dom had returned from a loan and was battling with DP Claudio Bieler as the starting striker. The go ahead goal for Sporting in the 2nd half is still a vivid moment for me. Benny made a world class, perfect little chip over (and between) the defense for Dom, who beat one more sliding defender and slotted it home. I think that is when everyone realized what the club really had in Feilhaber, and it cemented Dom's starting job. Now that final turned out to be one of the most intense sporting events I have ever seen, but that game with Houston still sticks out and is one of my favorites. This is a great little rivalry we have here.
Projected Lineup: (4-3-3) Tim Melia, Amadou Dia, Kevin Ellis, Matt Besler, Chance Myers, Soni Mustivar, Roger Espinoza, Benny Feilhaber, 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!