Sporting KC v Houston Dynamo (#SKCvHOU)
When: Saturday, March 7, 2020 at 7:30 PM CT
Where: Children’s Mercy Park
How to Watch/Stream: Fox Sports Kansas City | Fox Sports Midwest Plus | Fox Sports GO | ESPN+ | fuboTV
How to Listen: Sports Radio 810 WHB | La Grande 1340 AM (Spanish)
First place Sporting Kansas City. That sounds nice. And sure, it’s a six-way tie at the top of the Western Conference but SKC are really only equal with Minnesota United and FC Dallas who have a +2 goal differential as well. And they got three points when that was what was available to them. The season couldn’t have started much better.
Saturday, they face a Houston Dynamo team that played a hard fought draw at home against the LA Galaxy last weekend. Houston, much like SKC, struggled in 2019. They finished just one spot ahead of Sporting in 10th.
This weekend also marks the home opener for Sporting KC. It’s the first home game since September 29, 2019, when Sporting drew the Portland Timbers 2-2. That’s a long time for a rowdy fan base to be without their team. Children’s Mercy Park should be electric.
- Sporting are an undefeated in their last five regular season games against the Dynamo (3-0-2).
- In the regular season series Houston are in the lead with a 10-8-13 record. In all competitions Houston still leads 16-13-14 but the gap is closing.
- Home games for Sporting against Houston haven’t yielded the greatest record going just 2-1-6 in their last nine meetings at CMP. That’s only gaining 12 of a possible 27 points.
- That said, Sporting are pretty remarkable in home openers having only lost three times ever (NYCFC - 2018, Toronto FC - 2009, Chicago Fire - 1999).
What’s Changed in Houston Since 2019?
The biggest change is at head coach. Out are Wilmer Cabrera and interim coach (and former SKC player) Davy Arnaud. In is former United States U-20 coach Tab Ramos. Ramos, outside of coaching, was a former teammate of Peter Vermes’ with the National Team in their playing days. Now Ramos is tasked with turning around an under-spending Dynamo squad.
The team hasn’t made a ton of moves with the largest probably being the trade to acquire Darwin Quintero from Minnesota United. Quintero brings a lot on offense, but leaves a lot to be desired on defense. That said, he wasn’t even in the 18 last weekend due to injury.
The most underrated addition is probably fullback Zarek Valentin who was acquired in a trade with Nashville SC by way of the Portland Timbers in the expansion draft. He already has an assist this year and he’s a solid MLS contributor. The Dynamo also added GK Marko Maric from Hoffenheim (Germany), GK Cody Cropper (New England Revolution) and CB Victor Cabrera (Montreal Impact).
As far as subtractions the biggest loss is likely iron-man DaMarcus Beasley who retired. They also traded fullback/midfielder Marlon Hairston to Minnesota, GK Joe Willis to Nashville and LW Romell Quioto to the Montreal Impact.
For what changed for Sporting KC, check out Stacy’s season preview if you need a helpful reminder.
OUT - Andreu Fontas (knee surgery)
QUESTIONABLE - Felipe Gutierrez (bone bruise) [PV said he’s day-to-day in his press conference last week],
PROBABLE - Roger Espinoza (unknown)
*The official injury report doesn’t list Espinoza. The Houston injuries have been updated with Bizama being added to the report.
OUT - Marcelo Palomino (back), Jose Bizama (right ankle)
QUESTIONABLE - Darwin Quintero (right thigh), Alberth Elis (right thigh), Victor Cabrera (right hip)
GOALS: Alan Pulido, Gadi Kinda, Erik Hurtado (1)
ASSISTS: Roberto Puncec, Luis Martins, Gerso Fernandes (1)
GOALS: Mauro Manotas (1)
ASSISTS: Zarek Valentin (1)
Starting XI Predictions
Once again, such a robust discussion warrants it’s own story. Head over here for that.
After last weekend’s convincing win in Canada, one would expect SKC to win at home against a Dynamo team that is still figuring things out. They have a new coach and what appears to be a new system. Against LA they possessed the ball quite well (59.2%) despite in the past being a bunker and counter team.
If they try to possess at CMP, that plays into Sporting KC’s hands. SKC have been susceptible to the counter in the past and there were moments of that against the Vancouver Whitecaps where they looked vulnerable. While Sporting want to possess the ball (and undoubtedly will), not letting Houston sit as deep and counter is probably a good thing.
Another huge factor in this game is the health of both teams. Sporting looked good without their 2019 MVP Felipe Gutierrez, but they should be even better with him. Houston were missing Elis and newcomer Quintero. That’s a lot of firepower the team could have used when they were chasing a goal.
Against my better judgement I’ll say SKC find a way at home, though don’t be surprised if Week 2 is a let down since Sporting struggle so mightily with the Dynamo.
2-1 Sporting KC Win
What do you think? Predictions in the comments are welcome. How are you feeling about the season so far?
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