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Match Preview: Sporting KC tries to halt skid in Houston

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Can Sporting Kansas City get back on the winning track as they face off against an equally depleted Houston side?

"That wasn't supposed to happen"
"That wasn't supposed to happen"
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

About the Teams

Sporting Kansas City

Good news for Sporting Kansas City: Lawrence Olum is back!

Bad news: Igor Julio is questionable, Aurelien Collin is out for a while, Besler is gone until the end of the US' run in the World Cup, Opara is out for the year and Rosell is gone forever. Also Olum is jet-lagged and coming in on two days of training.

Sporting Kansas City will have a patchwork defense that has not served them well in May, sending them home with no wins in five matches. The offense, led by MLS Player of the Month Dom Dwyer, has been decent but the defense is understandably leaky. This is a team bogged down by unfortunate circumstances looking to get back on the right track before the World Cup break.

Houston Dynamo

The Dynamo are a team that is also struggling at the moment, depleted by the World Cup and injuries around the team. Brad Davis is currently with the United States and Boniek Garcia is with Honduras. Ricardo Clark is out with a concussion and the defense has been in tatters all season. The Dynamo have let in the most goals in the league and have been outscored 13-3 in their last five matches. They are much better at home than away, owning a +1 goal differential at BBVA Compass Stadium, as opposed to a -12 on the road. They've lost their last three matches, so they'll be looking to get a good result as well before the break.

Who to Watch

Sporting Kansas City- Lawrence Olum

Olum is going to be interesting to watch for a plethora of reasons. First will be to see how much the jet lag affects his play. He returned to Kansas City on Tuesday after being eight hours ahead and trained Wednesday and Thursday. This could effect whether he starts or not or how much he plays if he does start. Another reason to watch Olum is to see where Vermes puts him. He'll either be put into the center back role that needs a reliable defender so badly or he'll play in Rosell's old role that he's stepped into before, allowing Benny Feilhaber to play attacking midfielder again.

Houston Dynamo- Omar Cummings

The World Cup has ravaged the Dynamo of two of their best playmakers in Brad Davis in Boniek Garcia. While Cummings has been a substitute to start the season, he's been thrust into a starting role the past few matches as the Dynamo's playmaker. He's likely to play wing midfielder and to create chances for Bruin and Barnes at the top, which the patchwork Sporting KC defense may very well give up. If he can force the issue with the defense and create some havoc down the lines, Houston is going to be able to score.

Why They'll Win

Sporting Kansas City

The Houston defense right now is perfectly set up for Sporting Kansas City to take advantage of them. They've given up ten goals in seven gams at home, including a five-spot to Real Salt Lake in early May. With the way that Toni Dovale and Dom Dwyer have been playing lately, they should be able to create some magic and put some balls in the net. If Lawrence Olum plays defensive midfielder and Benny Feilhaber gets to move back to attacking midfielder, that'll allow more creativity from Sporting KC from more places. Regardless of their leaky defense, they should be able to outscore the home side.

Houston Dynamo

The Dynamo always seem to frustrate Sporting Kansas City because they are built to beat a system like Sporting's. If the defense can hold itself together long enough to send a ball forward, they have a couple of good forwards in Will Bruin and Giles Barnes that can score when called upon. If Houston puts several players behind the ball and waits for a counter, they can expose Sporting Kansas City's high pressure and patchwork defense. This would result in a low-scoring affair but an affair won by Houston.

Predictions

Lineups

Sporting KC: Kronberg; Sinovic, Palmer-Brown, Olum, Ellis; Feilhaber, Nagamura, Martinez; Peterson, Dwyer, Dovale.

Houston Dynamo (From Sean Ringrose): Tally Hall; Corey Ashe, AJ Cochran, David Horst, Kofi Sarkodie; Andrew
Driver, Warren Creavalle, Servando Carrasco, Omar Cummings; Will Bruin, Giles Barnes.

Scoreline

Sporting Kansas City 3-2 Houston Dynamo

Both teams are going to give up goals in an attempt to stop a skid. It won't be pretty, but it will be entertaining.