Sporting KC @ Houston Dynamo
When: Saturday, June 1, 2019 at 7:30 PM CT
Where: BBVA Compass Stadium
How to Watch/Stream: Fox Sports Kansas City | Fox Sports Midwest Plus | ESPN+
How to Listen: Sports Radio 810 WHB | ESPN Deportes KC 1480 AM
The biggest story heading into Saturday’s match in humid Houston will be that it’s Sporting Kansas City’s third game in a mere seven days. The three game stretch started fantastically with a thrilling 3-2 win over the Seattle Sounders. The fatigue started to set in on Wednesday as Sporting KC lacked the sharpness of the win on Sunday when they lost 2-0 to the LA Galaxy. With just two days rest, travel and 95 degree heat expected on Saturday in Houston, it’s hard to see Sporting KC bouncing back. Especially as they continue to deal with injuries and fatigue issues.
Compounding matters is Saturday is the last time SKC will have Krisztian Nemeth (and the first time in two games he’s been available), Botond Barath, Nicolas Hasler and Johnny Russell as they will miss the Toronto FC game (and US Open Cup game) when they head off to international duty.
Houston enter the game on a full weeks rest and sitting in fourth place in the West with the least amount of games played (just 12). They are 7-3-2 on the season with a 6-0-2 home record. Sporting on the other hand have played 13 games, have an abysmal 3-5-5 record including being 0-3-2 on the road. As a point of reference, Kansas City lost only eight times in all of 2018 and there are 21 games to go in 2019.
- Though SKC went 2-0-0 in MLS play against Houston in 2018 but they have lost six of their last eight visits to Houston.
- Mauro Manotas has Sporting’s number scoring seven goals in seven games between the clubs.
- KC has played Houston a LOT across all competitions recently. They have met them 30 times since 2011 and have a slight advantage with an 11-10-9 record.
What’s Changed for Houston in 2019?
Honestly, not much. They’ve brought in some MLS veterans in Marlon Hairston, Tommy McNamara, Chris Duvall and Maynor Figueroa. Nothing to get excited about.
On the departure side, it’s pretty steady as well. Out are veterans Leonardo, Adolfo Machado, Philippe Senderos, Jared Watts, Eric Alexander and Andrew Wenger.
Perhaps it’s the stability that have propelled the Dynamo to their fantastic start.
QUESTIONABLE - Botond Barath (groin) Johnny Russell (quad)
*This story has been updated with the official injury report.
OUT - Eric Bird (left ankle injury), Ronaldo Peña (left knee injury), Eric McCue (D) - concussion
QUESTIONABLE - None
Sporting KC - None
Dynamo - None
GOALS - Krisztian Nemeth, Johnny Russell (7), Felipe Gutierrez (4), Gianluca Busio (3), Ilie Sanchez (1)
ASSISTS - Johnny Russell (3), Roger Espinoza, Gerso Fernandes, Graham Zusi, Yohan Croizet, Ilie Sanchez, Kelyn Rowe (2), Felipe Gutierrez, Krisztian Nemeth, Nicolas Hasler (1)
GOALS - Mauro Manotas (6), Memo Rodriguez (5), Alberth Elis (4), Tomas Martinez (2), Tommy McNamara (1)
ASSISTS - Elis (6), Manotas (4), Rodriguez, Adam Lundkvist (2), Four with (1)
Starting XI Predictions
Oh geez. Your guess is as good as mine. Three games in seven days, plus travel and heat have to leave Kansas City at a horrible disadvantage. The only player who is fresh is Krisztian Nemeth who will return from an extended two-game suspension. It’s his final game before heading to international duty for Hungary.
Three other players, Russell, Barath and Hasler are all headed out of town too. The case can be made they should all play.
Hasler has a good chance to take back the starting right back spot. He held it while Graham Zusi dealt with an injury and Zusi really struggled in his return against the Galaxy. He had several unforced errors and continued to look poor, as he has for much of 2019. Add to that the plan from Vermes was to sub him at halftime according to the broadcast on Wednesday and he played all 90 minutes means Zusi is due an immediate break.
Barath left the Galaxy game at halftime due to “tightness” and was replaced by Besler. Fontas was said to not have 90 minutes in him but he went the distance anyways. If Botond isn’t healthy enough to start, it’s not clear Besler and Fontas have another 90 minutes in them either. Graham Smith could return to the lineup. The incredible speed of the Houston attackers might make the case to not play Fontas who is the slowest of the back line players. I’d play Smith over Fontas who isn’t fully fit, even if that makes me insane.
With Russell, there simply aren’t a lot of other wing options as of late, though he has played 90 minutes twice this week already. Even if he doesn’t start, he’s likely to come off the bench at the bare minimum.
Daniel Salloi returned from injury and could get the start over Kelyn Rowe who has improved greatly over the last few weeks. It was also rumored that Gerso may be available as early as Saturday, which could mean there is enough talent to let Russell get some much needed rest.
In the midfield Ilie is very likely to play. Who is ahead of him is more of an unknown. Feilhaber has played extensively this week and it seems like a logical move to start Gianluca Busio. I could see Gutierrez getting a run out, even though he looked utterly exhausted by the end of the LA game. No one else on the roster except the injured Roger Espinoza plays with his tenacity in midfield.
Finally a move could be imminent at left back as Medranda has gotten on late in both games this week. It seems unlikely he has 90 minutes in him, but his pace would be a great asset against Houston.
One thing to look out for could be GK rotation. The last time SKC were in a predicament with games this close together they put out nearly an entire second team lineup against FC Cincinnati.
Rest of the 18: Zendejas, Smith, Rowe, Feilhaber, Sinovic, Croizet, Gerso
I could see Smith starting and Fontas on the bench if Barath can’t go.
Fan Starting XI
The fan vote is similar to my lineup but with Sinovic still in at left back and Fontas in over Barath at center back. Both are very possible to be correct. The only voting that was really close is in defense. Here are the players to receive the most votes that weren’t enough to be starters: Barath (43.6%), Medranda (41%), Zusi (35.9%), Rowe [wing] (28.2%) and Busio (12.8%).
The short rest coupled with Houston’s style being Sporting KC’s kryptonite could make Saturday really, really ugly. Houston will be happy to sit back, let SKC have the ball, and kill them on the counter. The combination of Houston’s four attacking stars Elis, Manotas, Quioto and Rodriguez is going to be tough to handle. Elis is dealing with a concussion (which I’d wish on no one), but for KC’s sake let’s hope he takes the day off as he did against Minnesota.
If Elis can play, his speed along with the speed and attacking talent of other Dynamo attackers, will probably kill Sporting.
The one thing that’s in SKC’s favor is getting Nemeth back. They are tied for 2nd in all of MLS in goals per game (1.77) and 4th in shots on goal per game (5.5). Against the Galaxy though, they couldn’t put a shot on goal when it mattered, which did them in. They had lots of quality chances and they finished none of them. That obviously won’t fly in Houston.
3-1 Houston Win
What do you think? Predictions in the comments for both lineups and results are welcome. We can’t quite tell who you voted for in our other poll, so let us know why we are wrong.
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