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Sporting KC v Houston Dynamo: Preview, Predictions, Starting XI, Stats, Injuries

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Both teams are fighting for their playoff lives.

MLS: Sporting Kansas City at Houston Dynamo Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Sporting KC v Houston Dynamo (#SKCvHOU)

When: Saturday, August 31st, 2019 at 7:30 PM CT

Where: Children’s Mercy Park

How to Watch/Stream: Fox Sports KC Plus | Fox Sports GO | ESPN+
How to Listen: Sports Radio 810 WHB | ESPN Deportes KC 1480 AM

Only twice during the 2019 MLS season have Sporting Kansas City put two wins together in back-to-back games. They have a chance to make it a streak with a third straight victory on Saturday.

The Houston Dynamo come to town as a team that was as high as second place in the Western Conference but now they have fallen to 10th place, one spot behind SKC. The Dynamo are 9-14-5 with just 31 points. That leaves them three points behind 9th place Kansas City who are 9-11-7 (34 points).

These teams have already met once this year. It’s a game that Sporting will look back at as a missed chance. On the road they were up 1-0 for a mere six minutes before Alberth Elis leveled the score in the 69th minute and that is the way the game would end.

This should be quite a different match-up. Players that played that day that will likely be out are Yohan Croizet, Andreu Fontas and Nico Hasler. Besler, Hurtado and Espinoza were injured and missed that match as well.

Interesting Stats

  • Houston are an atrocious 2-11-0 on the road.
  • The Dynamo have lost five of their last six games overall (with the other game being a draw against Colorado).
  • Since May 26th Houston are 2-12-2. Eek! Considering they started 6-1-1, it’s quite the collapse.

What’s changed for Houston since these clubs met last?

The biggest change is likely the firing of head coach Wilmer Cabrera (who has oddly immediately been hired to coach the Montreal Impact). In an effort to pull out of their current death spiral the Dynamo made a couple moves in the secondary transfer window.

First, they added Christian Ramirez in a trade from LAFC. In addition they swung a trade with the Columbus Crew SC for midfielder/winger Niko Hansen. They also added defender Jose Bizama from Huachipato (Chile). Finally, the club added forward Michael Salazar from their USL Championship affiliate Rio Grande Valley FC.

It wasn’t all additions though. The team also waived long time defender Chris Duvall.

For all the other offseason changes from 2018 to 2019, check out our first preview of the year.

Injuries

Sporting KC

OUT - Rodney Wallace (hip injury), Adrian Zendejas (back)

QUESTIONABLE - None

*This story has been updated on 8/31 with the official injury report.

Houston

OUT - None

QUESTIONABLE - None

Suspensions

Sporting KC - None (Felipe Gutierrez & Roger Espinoza suspended next yellow card)

This yellow card situation is something to watch. If Espinoza gets suspended, SKC will be in real trouble as they are already without Gutierrez, Russell, Nemeth, Barath, Busio and Hasler for the Timbers game next weekend.

Houston - None (Romell Quioto, Maynor Figueroa & Juan David Cabezas suspended next yellow card)

Stats

Sporting KC

GOALS - Felipe Gutierrez (10), Johnny Russell (8), Krisztian Nemeth (7), Gianluca Busio, Yohan Croizet (3), Erik Hurtado, Ilie Sanchez (2), Gerso, Benny Feilhaber, Graham Smith (1)

ASSISTS - Johnny Russell (7), Gerso Fernandes, Ilie Sanchez (5), Roger Espinoza, Graham Zusi, Yohan Croizet, Kelyn Rowe, Felipe Gutierrez, Krisztian Nemeth, Benny Feilhaber (2), Nicolas Hasler, Seth Sinovic, Jimmy Medranda (1)

Houston

GOALS - Mauro Manotas (11), Alberth Elis (7), Memo Rodriguez (6), Tomas Martinez (4), Tommy McNamara, Romell Quioto (2), three with one

ASSISTS - Elis (8), Manotas (6), Rodriguez, Adam Lundkvist (4), McNamara, Maynor Figueroa, Martinez (3), Quioto (2), five with one

Starting XI Predictions

Two straight wins has me thinking Vermes is going to stick with virtually the same lineup. There are a couple positions potentially still in flux though.

First, left back. I suspect for continuity Luis Martins will start over Seth Sinovic for the third straight game. Sinovic has been fine for my money but there is one thing Martins is allowing that Sinovic was weirdly not. Because the coaches would send Seth so far forward, the backline was left unprotected. Now, with Martins staying back a bit (partially because he isn’t fully fit), it’s allowing Graham Zusi to get forward into the attack and this team functions at their best in that situation. I’ve called for that all year with Sinovic as the obvious defender of the two fullbacks. Weird it took his new potential replacement for that to actually happen.

Another thing allowing Zusi to get forward is the pace of Graham Smith who has covered for him much better than Andreu Fontas. It’s possible Botond Barath, who played 90 minutes for Swope Park last weekend, could take back his starting spot. But I’ll stick with the old “if it ain’t broke” adage and assume Smith holds the job for now.

The final position that I’m not clear on is who plays left wing. Gerso Fernandes got a few minutes against Minnesota United and if he’s fit it seems it should be his job. Then again, Peter Vermes may elect to bring him off the bench again if he isn’t fully ready to go. If Gerso is healthy one more thing I’d like to see is Daniel Salloi loaned to the Swope Park Rangers on Sunday. He needs to get his confidence back and Medranda has shown himself more than capable of playing on the wing. Especially since he’ll be counted on to start (likely) with Russell pulling international duty the next weekend.

Rest of the 18: Zendejas, Barath, Medranda, Sinovic, Busio, Nemeth, Salloi

Zendejas played 90 minutes for SPR last weekend too, so he can come back to finally give Eric Dick some minutes in USL. It’s an embarrassment of riches on the bench as players like Yohan Croizet, Gedion Zelalem and even Jaylin Lindsey may not get into the 18. And no, we don’t know why Croizet is in the dog house.

Fan Starting XI

The fan vote has settled in with your votes matching mine 100%. Here are the players with the most votes who aren’t starters: Barath (29.1%), Feilhaber (17.4%), Sinovic (14%), Lindsey (11.6%), Salloi (9.3%) and Nemeth (9.3%). In other words, it wasn’t close.

Prediction

For the last two opponents, no one expected Sporting KC to win. Now it’s possible they are favorites. They are at home. Houston is abysmal on the road. And the Dynamo are in a downward spiral losing 5-1 to FC Dallas last weekend. That could make this a trap game. I expect Kansas City to win, but I’ll go ahead and say they won’t since that’s worked so well the last two weeks when I made predictions.

2-2 Draw

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 (or right).

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