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Match Preview: Sporting Kansas City vs. Houston Dynamo

Sporting KC look to shake off their loss to DC United as they take on rivals Houston Dynamo.

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

About the Teams

Sporting Kansas City

Sporting KC come into this match second in the Eastern Conference after a 3-0 home humiliation at the hands of DC United. However, they are still one of the six teams that are within three points of the Supporters Shield, making every match from here on out important in that race. Both Eric Kronberg and Andy Gruenebaum are out, giving Jon Kempin another start in goal. Paulo Nagamura is also out for this match, meaning Sporting will have to continue to be creative in their midfield lineup selection.

Houston Dynamo

The Dynamo have fallen hard this year, coming into this match ninth in the Eastern Conference and tied for the league lead in goals allowed. They are especially bad on the road, sporting a 1-1-10 record with 29 goals give up in those twelve matches. They will likely have recent signing DaMarcus Beasley back for this match after he missed last week with a tweaked hamstring. This will help with their defense, plus give them a solid attacking option coming down the flank. Luis Garrido, another recent signing, will help shore up the defensive midfield and could give the Dynamo some breathing room they've needed on the road.

Who to Watch

Sporting Kansas City- Igor Juliao

As we know, Igor Juliao has not been the best defensive player on the roster this year. Tonight, he'll be going up against Brad Davis, whose left foot is one of the best in the league. While the Dynamo's attack has lacked at points, they still have weapons that Davis can get the ball to, including Will Bruin and Boniek Garcia. The defensive performance of Juliao here is going to be a big indicator of how Sporting fares in this match. If Sporting continuously get caught on a counter and Juliao can't contain Davis, the Dynamo are going to have a better chance this game.

Houston Dynamo- Luis Garrido

One of the best ways to get a result at Sporting Park is to put numbers behind the ball and clog up the middle, freeing up the outside for counterattacks. The source of that tonight needs to fall on the shoulders of Luis Garrido, whose primary responsibility will be to direct the attack from the back while simultaneously giving the Dynamo some coverage on the back line. If he can help limit the space for Dom Dwyer and stop Benny Feilhaber's attacks in the middle, Houston can have a decent defensive night.

Why They'll Win

Sporting Kansas City

This is a match Sporting Kansas City should win due to the performances of both of the teams in these situations. The Dynamo are awful away and tend to give up a lot of goals on the road. Sporting's high-pressure system was able to defeat the Dynamo in Houston 2-0 and that was without Graham Zusi helping on the attack, plus being down a man. With a full-strength lineup, Sporting should be able to attack the middle of the pitch and overwhelm the Houston centerbacks as they give Dwyer and Feilhaber good chances to score.

Houston Dynamo

The Dynamo have some new weapons since the last time these two teams met, including DaMarcus Beasley at left back. He'll be coming up behind Davis, providing a speed option on the overlapping runs while also providing some good defensive support when Sporting KC attacks down the left flank. Houston has always been able to frustrate Sporting KC offensive and, despite their defensive woes, could do the same in this match. If they can put numbers behind the ball and use the counter effectively, they could steal a result tonight.

Predictions

Lineups

Sporting Kansas City: Kempin; Juliao, Collin, Besler, Sinovic; Olum, Claros, Feilhaber; Dovale, Dwyer, Zusi.

Houston Dynamo (From Derek Stowers): Hall; Beasley, Taylor, Horst, Sarkodie; Davis, Clark, Garrido, Boniek; Barnes, Bruin.

Scoreline