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

Two home games in 2020. Two games against Houston. Weird.

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MLS: Houston Dynamo at Sporting Kansas City William Purnell-USA TODAY Sports

Sporting KC v Houston Dynamo (#SKCvHOU)

When: Tuesday, August 25, 2020 at 7:30 PM CT

Where: Children’s Mercy Park

How to Watch/Stream: FOX Sports Kansas City Plus | FOX Sports Midwest Plus | ESPN+ | fuboTV
How to Listen: Sports Radio 810 WHB | La Grande 1340 AM (Spanish)

Does anyone else have a feeling of deja vu? Sporting Kansas City have only played in their home stadium one time in 2020 and it was against the Houston Dynamo. Here we are again, more than five months later, and they are running it back.

Houston will look to have a better showing after getting annihilated by a score of 4-0 the last time out on goals by Alan Pulido, Gadi Kinda, Roger Espinoza and Khiry Shelton. It’s hard to imagine they won’t be better.

The Dynamo had a tough go at MLS is Back only netting two draws and a loss. Since the tournament ended they played to a 0-0 draw against Dallas. That leaves them dead last in the Western Conference with just four points through six games in 2020. They have yet to win. KC will try to ensure that doesn’t start at just their second home game of the year. Sporting KC are of course in first place in the West. First versus last (though it’s only six games in).

Interesting Stats

  • Sporting KC has a plus nine goal differential and Houston has a minus five goal differential entering Tuesday’s game. The second best and worst respectively.
  • SKC are undefeated in their last six regular season meetings with Houston (4-0-2) including three straight wins at CMP.
  • Houston have allowed six of their 11 goals after the 60th minute mark (four from the 61st to 75th minute).
  • All but one of the Dynamo’s goals for were scored in the first half, so if Sporting can hold them down early, it should bode well.
  • Looking at the game in 15 minute segments, Sporting Kansas City has scored in all of them after they added their first goal in the 15 minutes after halftime in the form of their game winner against Minnesota. Own goals still count, right?

What’s Changed for Houston Since 2019?

Since we’ve done this before, we have what we wrote back in March below. Before that though, the Dynamo have made a couple moves since the first time these teams met. They traded away midfielder Tommy McNamara for midfielder Wilfried Zahibo in a move with the New England Revolution. They also signed former LA Galaxy striker Ariel Lassiter on loan from Alajuelense where he became a pretty prolific goal scorer.

From March:

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 in week 1 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.

Injuries*

Sporting KC

OUT - Felipe Gutierrez (knee surgery)

QUESTIONABLE - Andreu Fontas (achilles surgery)

*This will be updated with the official injury report.

Houston

OUT - Michael Salazar (right knee injury)

QUESTIONABLE - Mauro Manotas (thigh), Ariel Lassiter and Wilfried Zahibo (quarantine), Boniek Garcia (thigh), Victor Cabrera (thigh)

Suspensions

Sporting KC - None

Houston - None

Stats

Sporting KC

GOALS: Alan Pulido, Khiry Shelton, Gadi Kinda (3), Erik Hurtado, Roger Espinoza, Graham Zusi, Johnny Russell, Gerso Fernandes (1)

ASSISTS: Pulido (4), Kinda, Luis Martins (2), Roberto Puncec, Gerso, Johnny Russell, Shelton, Jaylin Lindsey (1)

Houston

GOALS: Alberth Elis, Memo Rodriguez (2), Mauro Manotas, Darwin Quintero (1)

ASSISTS: Quintero (2), Zarek Valentin (1)

Form**

Sporting KC - W / L / W / W / W (12 points)

Houston - L / D / L / D / D (4 points)

**in league play

Starting XI Predictions

Go check that out over here. We answer three critical questions:

  • Can Roger Espinoza play three times in a week?
  • Will Ilie Sanchez be back?
  • Do you mess with that defense?

Plus we tally your fan votes to see if you guys cumulatively agree with me (you didn’t).

Score Predictions

For the first time in MLS league play, Sporting KC’s xG were lower than their opponent when they played Minnesota, yet they still won. On the other hand, Houston had a 1.24 xG against FC Dallas (0.62 xG) but they couldn’t convert. Houston was probably a bit unlucky to not win at home and now they head on the road where they were blasted 4-0 earlier this season. Then again, there are next to no fans so the atmosphere will be different and Tab Ramos has had a lot more time to get his team in a rhythm.

All the signs point to Sporting being able to run away with another win. That’s just the kind of game that KC have floundered in prior seasons. If they can get out to an early lead it seems Houston will crumble. The Dynamo are also dealing with quite a few injuries and absences. KC should win this game.

I’ll say they pull it out but it’s closer than it should be.

2-1 Sporting KC Win

What do you think? Predictions in the comments are welcome. Let’s chat about it.

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