Houston Dynamo vs. Sporting KC (image)
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Preview: Sporting KC put unbeaten run up against Dynamo

The Houston Dynamo continue their homestand when Sporting Kansas City come calling at Robertson Stadium on Saturday evening. The Dynamo returned home and came away with a comprehensive 2-0 victory against Toronto FC last weekend. Sporting once again used late heroics to maintain their unbeaten league record at home in a 1-1 draw with Chivas USA last weekend, though they were dumped out of the U.S. Open Cup at midweek.


REFEREE: Kevin Stott. SAR (bench): Adam Wienckowski; JAR (opposite): Brian Poeschel; 4th: Matthew Foerster
MLS Career: 203 games; FC/gm: 25.8; Y/gm: 3.4; R: 54; pens: 41

INJURY REPORT: HOUSTON DYNAMO – OUT: FW Calen Carr (concussion); DOUBTFUL: DF Eddie Robinson (L knee sprain); QUESTIONABLE: FW Cam Weaver (R hip strain); PROBABLE: DF Jermaine Taylor (R ankle sprain) …

SPORTING KANSAS CITY – OUT: MF Davy Arnaud (sports hernia); DF Julio Cesar (L hamstring strain); MF Craig Rocastle (R knee sprain); DOUBTFUL: MF Graham Zusi (L ankle sprain)

SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: HOU: Brad Davis … KC: Omar Bravo, Julio Cesar, Aurelien Collin

ALL-TIME (10 meetings): Dynamo 5 wins, 17 goals … Sporting 2 wins, 11 goals … Ties 3
AT HOUSTON (5 meetings): Dynamo 2 wins, 9 goals … Sporting 1 win, 5 goals … Ties 2
RETURN MATCH: 9/10: Sporting Kansas City vs. Houston Dynamo, 4 p.m. (TeleFutura)

5/1: HOU 3, KC 0 (Landin 24; Mullan 52; Appiah 88)
9/22: KC 4, HOU 3 (Kamara 35; Bunbury 60; Smith 71; Wolff 90 – Weaver 13; Oduro 34; Serioux 37)
•    The teams are meeting for the first time this season in league play, but Sporting claimed a 1-0 victory in a U.S. Open Cup play-in match on April 6 behind an extra-time goal from C.J. Sapong.
•    Since winning the first meeting ever between the clubs on April 8, 2006, Kansas City have not won in Houston. The Dynamo have won two of the last four league meetings at Robertson Stadium, with one draw.
•    Coaches record: Dominic Kinnear v KC: P16 W7 L4 D5 … Peter Vermes vs. HOU: P3 W1 L1 D1

The Houston Dynamo raised their unbeaten streak to a modest three games, easing to a 2-0 victory against Toronto FC on Saturday evening at Robertson Stadium. The Dynamo have 23 points from 19 games on the season, sitting in fourth place in the Eastern Conference.

•    The game found some life in the second half, and the Dynamo took the lead on 50 minutes. Danny Cruz sent the ball forward to Brian Ching then raced onto a return pass in the TFC half, rushing in alone on goal and beating Stefan Frei with a side-footed shot that the TFC 'keeper could only nick as it went by.
•    Houston then sealed the contest in the 81st minute when Geoff Cameron stepped forward to thump home a loose ball after a corner rattled around the TFC area. Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall was not called upon to face a single shot on the evening.
•    Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear made no changes to his team for a second successive match, keeping the group that played to a scoreless result with the Colorado Rapids at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
•    HOUSTON DYNAMO (4-4-2): Tally Hall - Kofi Sarkodie, Jermaine Taylor, Andre Hainault, Corey Ashe - Danny Cruz, Je-Vaughn Watson (Lovel Palmer 84), Geoff Cameron, Brad Davis (Colin Clark 65) - Will Bruin, Brian Ching (Cam Weaver 78).

•    The Dynamo have recorded back-to-back shutouts for the first time this season. They did not record back-to-back shutouts once in 2010; the last time they kept a zero in successive games was three in a row from May 30-June 10, 2009.
•    “It’s always good when you get no goals against,” said Houston head coach Dominic Kinnear. “We made a few mistakes, but we covered up for it. Tally [Hall] gave a lot of credit to his back four for making his job easier than it had to be.”
•    After being besieged by the Colorado attack in the scoreless draw at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, called upon to make seven saves, many of the spectacular variety, Hall did not face a single shot from TFC.
•    “[The defense] starts our possession,” said midfielder Geoff Cameron. “With them possessing it and swinging it left to right, it sets the standard.”
•    The Sporting game is the last of four home games in a six-game stretch for the Dynamo. They’ve won two of those games.
•    “We know we have a long, long, long way to go. We can celebrate now, but come tomorrow and the next day, it’s back to work,” said fullback Corey Ashe. “We need to climb the ladder. We have some home game that we need to start utilizing. Ties are good, but they’re not great. Especially since we’re at home, we need three points.”
•    Since being paired in the center of midfield with the suspension of Lovel Palmer on June 25, the duo of Geoff Cameron and Je-Vaughn Watson have held down the starting roles.
•    “They do like to take chances going forward, which is good, but sometimes you want to be more conservative,” Kinnear said. “They do take turns going forward, which is good, but we want them to consistently keep the ball. … They do a lot of the hard work in midfield, when they’re surrounded by players, that sometimes go unnoticed. We notice the amount of work they put in, because it makes it easier for us to keep the ball.”

Sporting Kansas City kept their undefeated home record at their new stadium alive in dramatic circumstances, getting a late equalizer in a 1-1 draw with Chivas USA on Saturday evening at Livestrong Sporting Park. Sporting have 22 points from 18 matches on the season, sitting in a tie for fifth place in the Eastern Conference.

•    Chivas took the lead after a nifty passing sequence in the 30th minute. Ben Zemanski and Justin Braun both split the Kansas City defense with precise passes to find Nick LaBrocca at the top of the area, and he side-footed the ball into the bottom left corner.
•    But Sporting once again found some late heroics at home. Matt Besler knocked the ball forward, Birahim Diop and Aurélien Collin battled to help the ball on and a bad clearance from in front of goal fell to Omar Bravo, who nodded home from close range for the stoppage-time leveler.
•    SKC manager Peter Vermes made two changes to the team that came back for a 1-1 draw with the Colorado Rapids at Livestrong Sporting Park. Milos Stojcev and C.J. Sapong came back into the team in place of Kei Kamara and Teal Bunbury.
•    SPORTING KANSAS CITY (4-1-2-3): Jimmy Nielsen - Chance Myers, Aurelien Collin, Matt Besler, Michael Harrington - Julio Cesar (Luke Sassano 46) - Graham Zusi (Birahim Diop 80), Roger Espinoza - Milos Stojcev (Kei Kamara 38), C.J. Sapong, Omar Bravo.

•    Sporting kept their Livestrong Sporting Park undefeated start alive with a second consecutive second-half game-tying goal, after Graham Zusi’s leveler gave them the draw vs. Colorado at midweek.
•    “I said to the guys that in the last 11 games that we’ve played, it is probably the worst half of soccer that I’ve seen us play. And unfortunately, that’s going to happen,” said SKC managerPeter Vermes.” The important thing is how you react in the second half. And I thought our reaction was excellent, and we had the last-minute dramatic goal to get the tie, but the amazing part is the fight the guys have to just keep going and going.
•    Sporting are now unbeaten in 10 league games. They are one of three teams still undefeated at home in 2011 (2-0-3), along with both conference leaders – the LA Galaxy (5-0-5) and Philadelphia Union (5-0-4).
•    “We’re alive and well. We have a lot of games left, and we have a lot of games left at home,” Vermes said. “I feel that we’re starting to come into our own as a team, and we’re going to continue to hopefully get results. As much as you don’t want to focus on everyone else in the league, it’s not like everyone else is taking off in points because some teams are getting beat.”
•    Omar Bravo scored for the second time in four games; his penalty kick June 25 vs. Vancouver was his first since scoring twice in the season opener.
•    “I’m happy for him that he got it. It was a great goal because of his anticipation,” said Vermes. “That’s the one thing that people don’t see about Omar. The one thing that Omar does better than other players is that he finishes the ball. He may not get the first ball or the second ball but he keeps on going to get the third one because of his commitment to making those runs.”
•    Mijos Stojcev returned to the starting lineup in place of Kei Kamara, but before the first half was out, Kamara was back on the field for Stojcev.
•    “He came in and changed the game some for us, especially the last few minutes of the half. I think in the second half he was definitely a monster,” Vermes said.
•    But on Tuesday, Sporting KC lost 2-0 to the USL PRO Richmond Kickers in the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open Cup in a storm-delayed match at Livestrong Sporting Park. Goals from Shaka Bangura and David Bulow gave the Kickers the victory; they will now take on the Chicago Fire in the semifinals.
•    Here’s the SKC side: Eric Kronberg, Chance Myers, Aurelien Collin, Matt Besler, Scott Lorenz (C.J. Sapong 72), Michael Harrington, Kei Kamara, Luke Sassano (Roger Espinoza 56), Milos Stojcev (Omar Bravo 60), Birahim Diop, Teal Bunbury.
•    “Coming out in the second half and then giving that away…some guys were just walking around the field,” Vermes said. “(It was) unacceptable and embarrassing. Everybody is going to know about it come the next couple days. That’s for darn sure.”