Kansas City, KS (September 9, 2016) – Sporting Kansas City will take on Houston Dynamo on this Friday night at 7pm local time. Sporting KC will look to win its’ seventh consecutive home game. Virtually eliminated from the postseason, the Dynamo will look to extend their three game win streak against Sporting. Our keys to victory for Sporting, and predictions are all included. Lets dig in!
Sporting KC vs. Houston Dynamo: Match Preview
Sporting can take a big step forward in securing playoff positioning with a win. Houston? They’ll look to be a nuisance. This week, americansocceranalysis.com released their 2016 MLS Playoff Odds. Currently, Sporting have an 80% chance at making the postseason, while Houston has a fraction of a percent’s chance at getting into the playoffs. With Houston all but eliminated, their role now is to play spoiler. Sporting KC haven’t had the greatest of luck against them, losing all three of their last meetings. So what are Sporting’s keys to victory this week?
Keys To Victory
Don’t Let Them Get Ahead
It sounds obvious, but it’s quite a simple thing when playing Houston. Houston took a 2-0 lead over San Jose Earthquakes a few weeks back, and were just content to sit and bunker. They absorbed pressure, cross after cross, and made all but one crucial clearance. That resulted in all three points. They got ahead of Seattle Sounders two days later but a late equalizer for Seattle forced a draw. With as predictable as Sporting’s attack has been, if Houston can get ahead, it could spell trouble for them. They will look to counter, and will take advantage of set pieces. Giving them the minimal amount of set pieces and dousing counter attacks should be good enough to get a victory from Sporting.
Get In Behind the Defense
A lot of Sportings’ offense is predicated on getting the ball to Dom Dwyer. What they don’t do well is give him service from in behind the back line. It’s extremely difficult to defend when the ball is behind you, because you must be focused on either the ball, or the man. With smart players like Graham Zusi, Brad Davis, and Jacob Peterson out on the wings, it would be worth it to get in behind the backline to create a little more chaos in Houston’s back line. If they can get around the outside and tiptoe the goal-line, whip in a square ball, there is a solid chance someone gets on the end of it.
Take Advantage of Set Pieces
Sporting has three marvelous set piece takers, and plenty of good targets. This is an easy recipe for goals off of set pieces. Davis, Feilhaber, and Zusi are all capable set piece takers. With guys like Ike Opara, Saad Abdul-Salaam, and of course Dwyer in the mix, scoring off a set piece should be a huge part of the game-plan. Defending them well will be a key as well. As I said earlier, keeping Houston off the board is almost a guaranteed win. I don’t mean to sound like Alexi Lalas in his early commentary days, but dead ball situations should be a main focus for a team like Sporting. Too many capable players to ignore them.
The First Prediction will be the Starting XI. The only guaranteed missing player will be Jimmy Medranda who’s suspended for this match. It does sound like Justin Mapp and Lawrence Olum will not be available either. Sam McDowell of the Kansas City Star reported via Twitter they both sat our practice on Tuesday. Roger Espinozas’ pathetic red card was overturned by the league, and rightfully so. So expect him to be on the lineup sheet. Here’s how I expect them to lineup:
If Sporting KC don’t walk away with at least a win, I’d be shocked. Sporting’s home form has been exceptional, and despite the recent history between the two, their quality should be too much for Houston to handle. Home teams always do well in MLS, and cream should rise to the top. 3-1 Sporting KC.