About the Teams
Sporting Kansas City
Sporting KC were one stoppage time goal away from a solid road point at Los Angeles last week but showed signs of weaknesses against the defending champions in the second half and were eventually scored upon. They haven't played a consistently complete game since their March win over New York City FC and they are likely without Krisztian Nemeth for this match due to a hip injury. Their defense is still adjusting to the loss of Ike Opara and is in limbo waiting the return of Chance Myers on the right side, so potential struggles abound there.
The Dynamo could feature a couple of returns tonight. The first is Raul Rodriguez, their solid centerback who has been dealing with a multitude of injuries in 2015. Boniek Garcia is also a candidate to return to the pitch after a twisted knee but there are questions of whether he is match fit or not. They have the same 2-2-3 record as Sporting KC and are coming off a 1-1 draw with DC United.
Who to Watch
Sporting Kansas City- Kevin Ellis
Kevin Ellis has been thrust into Sporting KC's starting lineup with the injury of Ike Opara and, barring an outside acquisition, is going to be an important part of Sporting KC's back line in 2015. The question tonight will be if he can play the "attacking defender" role where he's able to take the chances and defend in the middle while Besler sweeps behind him. If he can be an asset to the defense in that regard then he'll fit in just fine.
Houston Dynamo- Raul Rodriguez
Staying with the theme of centerbacks being important tonight, Rodriguez is returning from a myriad of injuries and will be a big part in trying to reign in Dom Dwyer. Dwyer has not been at the level he was in 2014 and one of the reasons why is opposing defenses have been good at isolating him. Rodriguez will be the next man up to attempt to do the same thing and if he can, Sporting KC's attacking abilities go down tremendously.
Why They'll Win
Sporting Kansas City
The emergence of Servando Carrasco in the lineup means that Benny Feilhaber is able to play a more forward role in the midfield. The attacking creativity is going to be limited on the wings since the left wing is still ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ so the midfield is going to be big in whatever sort of attack Sporting KC can bring to the table. If Rodriguez is not up to speed quite yet and if Sporting KC can control the midfield in the attack half then they stand a good chance to take three points.
The Dynamo have all sorts of attacking abilities on the wings with Brad Davis, Michael Beasley and Boniek Garcia. Coupled with Sporting KC's shaky fullback defensive performances the past couple of games, the wingers and fullbacks for Houston should be licking their lips at this opportunity. Houston will win by using their superiority down the flank and getting past the Sporting KC fullbacks enough times to score.
Sporting KC: Marin; de Jong, Besler, Ellis, Anibaba; Carrasco, Espinoza, Feilhaber; Peterson, Dwyer, Zusi
Houston Dynamo (From Derek Stower): Deric; Beasley, Taylor, Rodriguez, Sarkodie; Davis, Sturgis, Garrido, Clark, Lopez; Barnes
Sporting Kansas City 1-1 Houston Dynamo