HOUSTON – True rivalries are born not made, they say.
Therefore, it’s more than OK to say the Houston Dynamo and Sporting Kansas City are true rivals.
Sunday’s upcoming meeting in the first leg of the MLS Eastern Conference Semifinal (3:30 pm ET, NBC, live chat on MLSsoccer.com) will be the sixth between the two clubs in 14 months. The previous five matches have been tight, physical affairs with the Dynamo edging out their rivals in the results column, with two wins, one loss, and two draws. The biggest result, of course, was Houston’s 2-0 win in the Eastern Conference Final last year at Livestrong Sporting Park.
So although FC Dallas are considered Houston’s big rivals, that might be changing.
“Yeah, I think [Sporting] are the new rivalry,” Corey Ashe told MLSsoccer.com. “Going there is a tough place to play; coming here is a tough place to play. They have a lot of good players and we have a lot of good players, so it makes it a good matchup.”
The similarities between the clubs are striking. Both teams are competitive, look to take the match to their opponent whether home or away and are not afraid to get stuck in a tackle. Put that together and it makes for hard-fought contests and mutual admiration.
“We respect them, they’re a hard working group,” defender Bobby Boswell told MLSsoccer.com. “It’s not a real superstar oriented group and I think we’ve got a lot of that here. They seem to match up well with us and we match up well with them. I think we give them a little more trouble than most teams.”
The results substantiate Boswell’s position: The Dynamo are the only Eastern Conference team that avoided losing to the regular-season leaders.
Unlike 2011, this year’s playoff affair means a home-and-home series between the two, with the winner moving on to the Eastern Conference final. If history is an indication, you can expect nothing less than the same respect and hard-nosed play for the next 180 minutes.
“There’s a lot that can go on in 180 minutes but … we’ve got a lot of respect for Peter [Vermes] and his team and the way they play, so it’s going to be a tough game,” said head coach Dominic Kinnear. “All games are played with highly competitive minutes, and I don’t think it’s going to stop until the final whistle blows. And hopefully at that time, we’re moving on to the next round.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on twitter at @DarrellLovell.
2011 Eastern Conference Final highlights