The Houston Dynamo have a chance to win their 2nd road match of the year against rivals Sporting Kansas City. The Dynamo are a very different team than the one that bested SKC 2-0 on May 7th at BBVA Compass Stadium in the regular season. The Dynamo started Giles Barnes and Erick Torres and had Owen Coyle as their manager then – all of whom are no longer with the club (though Cubo Torres remains technically a part, he’s simply on loan to Cruz Azul).
Under interim boss Wade Barrett, the Dynamo have turned a mediocre defense into one of the league’s best, but it has come at the expense of the offense. The defense, which has been hit hard by injuries throughout Barrett’s time at the reins, will have to be ready for SKC forward Dom Dywer and company if they want to see any results. The forwards will have it even rougher as the Dynamo went from having an abundance of players at the position to just a few as they loaned Torres out and traded fan-favorite Giles Barnes. This leaves the door open to Mauro Manotas who scored twice against SKC in the US Open Cup this summer.
Injuries Play a Factor
The injury bug has had more than its share when it comes to the health of players which should have both sides complaining. For Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper Tim Melia, midfielder Justin Mapp, and defenders Chance Myers and Lawrence Olum stand out as big time players SKC will miss. Additionally Graham Zusi is just returning from USMNT duty and Matt Besler returned early from the USMNT to spend time with his newborn daughter so it’s unclear if either player will feature.
For Houston, goalkeeper Tyler Deric is still out along with Agus, David Horst, and Abdoulie Mansally. DaMarcus Beasley returned to the field in a friendly match this past Sunday for the final 20 minutes against Chivas de Guadalajara for the first time following his minor knee surgery, but it’s unlikely he’s 90 minutes fit. Forward Will Bruin is also expected to be in the Dynamo 18, but is also returning from injury. Should Horst not be able to play, I would expect Keyner Brown, whom the Dynamo acquired rights for in the Giles Barnes trade, to partner alongside Raul Rodriguez in central defense. Oscar Boniek Garcia is also returning from Honduran National Team duty and if he’s unable to start, expect Andrew Wenger or Rob Lovejoy to get the call.
What’s at Stake
Sporting Kansas City currently sits in the 5th playoff spot in the Western Conference and they would like to move up the table. In the playoff structure introduced last year, as things stand, they would face the Colorado Rapids in Colorado in the knockout round. They would like to avoid playing in Colorado as the Rapids remain unbeaten at home.
For Houston it’s a lot simpler: last place sucks. The Dynamo would like to not be league bottom anymore and they can overcome that position with a win over a rival. This team has the talent to be better than where they are now, but the results just haven’t gone their way.
With the injuries impacting this match a door is open for the Dynamo to come away with points, but only if they capitalize on their opportunities. They will need to support the attacking players by pressuring and staying in advanced areas of the field while being able to come back and prevent the capable SKC offense from doing its thing.