Dynamo-Sporting Kansas City Preview
The Houston Dynamo have good memories from their last visit to Kansas City. However, they haven't had too many positive ones from recent road games.
In the teams' first meeting since the 2011 Eastern Conference finals, the Dynamo visit Sporting on Saturday night.
Houston came to Livestrong Park on Nov. 6 and won 2-0 to reach the MLS Cup final, with Tally Hall earning the shutout.
While their biggest victory of last season came on the road, the Dynamo (6-5-6) have struggled there this year. After winning their first two road games, they've gone 0-5-3, losing four of five and two in a row.
Houston has gone 1-1-2 in its last four overall, playing to a scoreless draw with Chicago on Tuesday to stay unbeaten at home. The Dynamo managed two shots on goal and were playing without midfielder Geoff Cameron, who was a late scratch with a left hamstring injury, but were encouraged by the solid defensive effort.
"That's the positive you take out of it, negating their chances," coach Dominic Kinnear told Houston's official website. "The back four's been solid. We're not giving up chances in the run of play, which is nice to see."
Houston will try to bring that defensive intensity on the road. The Dynamo have given up seven goals in their last two away games and 18 this season.
"Our road record is something we need to do a little bit better on," forward Brian Ching said. "I think we've made some uncharacteristic mistakes on the road at times and hopefully we can correct that."
They may have to do so immediately to come away with a win Saturday. Sporting is 6-2-0 at home, where it has outscored opponents 11-5.
Kansas City (10-5-2) is coming off a 3-1 win at Montreal on Wednesday, snapping a three-game winless streak. It had been shut out in the previous two games but rallied with three goals in the second half, with Graham Zusi's score in the 75th minute putting Sporting ahead.
Two goals came on penalty kicks on disputed hand balls by Montreal.
"I'm 100 percent sure the penalties were justifiable and we should have had one in the first half because the same thing was happening," coach Peter Vermes said. "Two of their guys were grabbing (Kei) Kamara and C.J. Sapong every time they were in the box."
Kansas City had scored eight goals in going 2-5-2 in its previous nine.
Despite its recent struggles to find the back of the net, Sporting is one point behind D.C. for first place in the East with a game in hand. All of the club's remaining games are against conference foes.
"It's all about us just looking forward," Kamara said. "Every team we play now is in the Eastern Conference, so every single game is like a playoff game for us right now."