Sporting Kansas City looks to clinch playoff berth with a win in Houston

USA TODAY Sports

The chase for playoffs and hardware continues as Sporting Kansas City travels to Houston to battle their recent postseason nemesis.

About the Teams

Sporting Kansas City

After a tense win in Columbus last Saturday, Sporting Kansas City is right back in the Supporters Shield race and will look to lock up a playoff spot with a win in Houston. They will have to do this without Graham Zusi and Matt Besler, who are with the United States National Team in preparation of the qualifers Friday and Tuesday. Soony Saad was called up to Lebanon, but was in practice yesterday so Sporting should have one of their starting wingers. They have already defeated Houston once, a 1-0 victory at BBVA stadium. The two sides drew the other time.

Houston Dynamo

The Dynamo are sitting in a less comfortable spot than Sporting KC in the playoff race but they're not hanging by a thread either. With some help they could even clinch their own playoff berth by this Saturday. They will be without Jermaine Taylor and Boniek Garcia, but they will have Brad Davis. They will have Brad Davis though, who was at Houston's practice yesterday according to Dynamo Theory. The Dynamo are unbeaten in their last four matches and have won three of those matches.

Who to Watch For

Sporting Kansas City- Oriol Rosell

After being suspended for the match against Columbus for yellow card accumulation, Rosell will return to the Sporting KC lineup for Houston where he will play an extremely important role. With Zusi gone, Rosell will be in charge of commanding the midfield and helping Feilhaber and I assume Joseph get the ball forward. He will also be in charge of keeping the Dynamo out of Sporting's half and not allowing them any opportunity to get a goal. He plays an important role normally but it's amplified without Zusi helping command the midfield.

Houston Dynamo- Will Bruin

Will Bruin is going to be dangerous for the Dynamo tonight for a couple of reasons. One, he will be in charge of breaking down Rosell in the midfield and attacking the centerbacks of Aurelien Collin and Ike Opara. If he gets space in between those two he can put the Dynamo on the board. Another responsibility he may have is using his own physical nature to get the Dynamo good free kick spots and maybe get Aurelien Collin that last yellow card he needs before he is suspended for yellow card accumulation. Bruin will be the integral part of the Dynamo's offense tonight.

How they will win

Sporting Kansas City

As said above, Sporting Kansas City needs to command the midfield. Sporting KC is missing Zusi, but the Dynamo are missing Garcia in the midfield. Both teams are missing someone but Sporting needs to step up and take over the midfield. Benny Feilhaber has been playing well recently and the return of Rosell will help tremendously. Since the Dynamo are at home they are going to open up a bit and not bunker down like many teams at Sporting Park. If Sporting can control possession, tempo and the chances from the midfield, they should have no problem both getting the ball to the forwards and keeping the Dynamo strikers away from the back line.

Houston Dynamo

With the Dynamo being at home they are going to open up more and allow their offense to try and use their abilities. This means that they need to beat Sporting KC with smart, tactical moves and a sense of who they can beat. If they suddenly spring a counter, Peterson Joseph isn't going to react as well as a Nagamura. The Dynamo forwards need to know this and be ready to attack Sporting's weakness in the midfield. Rosell and Feilhaber will do well, but if the Dynamo can expose Joseph and force him to make some mistakes then they will get to the back line and score goals.

Predictions

Lineups

Sporting Kansas City: Nielsen, Myers, Collin, Opara, Sinovic, Rosell, Joseph, Feilhaber, Saad, Bieler, Sapong.

Houston Dynamo: Hall, Sarkodie, Boswell, Brunner, Ashe, Johnson, Clark, Creavalle, Davis, Barnes, Bruin.

Score

Sporting Kansas City 2-1 Houston Dynamo
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