HOUSTON – It does not get much bigger than an Eastern Conference clash between the Houston Dynamo and Sporting Kansas City with just three matches left in the season.
When the two teams meet on Wednesday night (8:30 pm ET; MLS Live), playoff berths and playoff seeding will be on the line. And considering the potential for a third consecutive postseason showdown — the Dynamo have ousted Sporting in the previous two — the match takes on even greater importance.
But although the stakes will be high at BBVA Compass Stadium, the teams will be forced to play without a handful of key starters due to World Cup qualifying duties. And that scenario doesn't sit well with Houston goalkeeper Tally Hall.
“I think this game is too important to play over a FIFA break,” Hall told MLSsoccer.com on Monday. “Playing for your country, there’s no greater honor. At the same time, looking back at everyone who’s missing and has a game this important is saying, 'I want to be a part of that [Houston-Sporting KC] game.'"
The Dynamo will be without attacking catalyst Boniek Garcia (Honduras) and defensive stalwart Jermaine Taylor (Jamaica), while Graham Zusi and Matt Besler will skip the contest for Sporting while on USMNT duty.
“No one on the team is saying, ‘Man, I wish he didn’t go [to the national team],’” Hall continued. “But they are saying, 'I wish the league and national team can have a schedule that coincides a little better, especially this late in the season.'”
With Garcia and Taylor gone, the Dynamo will turn to a squad that is getting deeper by the week. Andrew Driver (calf strain) and Eric Brunner (ankle sprain) are coming back from injury and rookie Jason Johnson is even better prepared to seize the opportunity after filling in during previous international breaks.
The Dynamo have been down players in eight games due to international duty. Over that time they've used a rotation of players and formations to earn a record of 3-3-2.
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“The more you think about it the more you want to complain,” said head coach Dominic Kinnear. “You just have to deal with it."
Added Hall: “It’s frustrating for both teams; it’s frustrating for teams around the league,” Hall said. “You work all year for your club … so you can perform and succeed in a moment like this. These club games are too important for guys to be missing.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.