The Houston Dynamo were able to move up the table into a postseason position following their 2-1 win over Minnesota United FC, but they haven’t punched their ticket to the playoffs yet. Two pivotal games against Sporting Kansas City will largely determine their postseason fate.
In our preview of the match we discussed what it will mean for both sides missing big time players, but we wanted to know more about our out-of-state rivals so we spoke with Thad Bell at the Blue Testament to gain insight about Sporting Kansas City and the final stretch of the regular season.
Dynamo Theory: With several key players missing due to World Cup Qualifying or injuries, how will Peter Vermes tinker with his starting XI and get the desired results with essentially three games in nine days?
The Blue Testament: Less tinker, more plug-and-play. With the US players unavailable for Wednesday, most of the subs will be straight forward. Saad Abdul-Salaam for Graham Zusi and Eric Palmer-Brown for Matt Besler on the backline. Jimmy Medranda typically fills in for Benny Feilhaber but Cristian Lobato could also be that guy.
The real question for SKC is in goal. Does youthful Adrian Zendejas get the start over journeyman Andrew Dykstra?
DT: Sporting Kansas City has a bit of a cushion when it comes to its points and making the playoffs, but how important is it for SKC to come out strong in its final games including coming into a tough place to play in Houston?
TBT: SKC has made the playoffs for a while now but the last two years they faded a bit and had to go to on the road and ended up barely losing to the eventual MLS Cup winners. In Portland a draw, keeper knocked out with a concussion, penalties, two posts on one shot and out. Last year two offsides, one called and one not and Seattle wins. Peter Vermes REALLY does not want to go on the road for one of those games this year so finishing top 4 is critical.
DT: SKC have been one of the most dominant clubs at home this season, but have struggled to get three points on the road (a story Dynamo fans are well versed in). What is one of the larger issues for this discrepancy and how will Vermes remedy this in time for the postseason?
TBT: Good question, I bet Vermes would like the answer if you have any good suggestions.
Sporting KC is one of the lowest scoring teams in the league but it mainly because of their lack of goals on the road. At home they are third in the west for goals with 30, on the road they on second worst with just 8. Hard to win on the road if you can’t score. They do seem to be getting a little better at scoring on the road. Well at least I keep telling myself that.
With sending Dwyer to Orlando the offense is more interesting and much less focused on a single striker. Diego Rubio is better at connecting with his team than Dom and they are looking more dangerous even if they haven’t scored a lot more yet.
Dykstra (or maybe Zendejas)
Abdul-Salaam Opara Palmer-Brown Sinovic
Gerso Rubio Salloi
Predicted Outcome: Sporting KC takes lead but gives up late goal and we split the points.
For my answers to Thad’s excellent questions check them out at the Blue Testament!