Dynamo-Sporting Kansas City Preview
The Houston Dynamo finished in the fifth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, but they're just 90 minutes from moving a step closer to a second consecutive MLS Cup appearance.
Still, the club doesn't want to get too far ahead of itself as it prepares to face a Sporting Kansas City side that hasn't lost at home in more than three months.
Houston will try to advance to the conference finals for the fifth time in seven seasons Wednesday night, when top-seeded Kansas City looks to make up a two-goal differential in the finale of this two-legged series.
After posting a 14-9-11 regular-season record, the visiting Dynamo defeated fourth-seeded Chicago 2-1 last Wednesday in a one-game playoff behind leading scorer Will Bruin's two goals.
The forward scored again Sunday and Adam Moffat also found the back of the net in a 2-0 home win in the opener of this series.
Houston, winner of four consecutive conference semifinal matches, is 2-0-2 versus Sporting KC this season, with the teams playing to a draw in both meetings at Livestrong Park.
"It's not over," Dynamo coach Dominic Kinnear said. "We know that. If we go to Kansas City thinking that 2-0 is going to carry us to the top and take care of itself, then we are approaching the game the wrong way, and I won't let them do that."
Houston heads to Kansas City with a significant advantage, but there is good reason for caution as Sporting is 4-0-2 at home since a 2-1 loss to Columbus on July 28.
"As far as I am concerned, they played well and got the result at home, and now, we need to go do the same," Kansas City coach Peter Vermes said Sunday after his club's 13-game point streak across all competitions ended.
Not that it needs it, but Sporting likely has some extra motivation heading into the match after Houston advanced to last season's MLS Cup with a 2-0 win at Kansas City in the one-game conference finals.
"We can't focus too much on what they're going to do," Sporting KC goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen told MLS' official website. "Our mentality has to be an attacking mentality. We know we have to score at least two goals."
If Kansas City levels the aggregate score after regulation, the match will go to a 30-minute overtime session, then a penalty kick shootout, if necessary.
The winner of this series will face New York or D.C. in the conference finals.