MLS Preview from The Sports Network (ET)
06/05/2014 10:24 AM
06/05/2014 10:24 AM
Kansas City (5-5-4) at Houston (5-8-2), 8:30 p.m.
Houston, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - Sporting Kansas City and the Houston Dynamo hook up at BBVA Compass Stadium on Friday with both sides in need of three points heading into the World Cup break.
Sporting enters Friday's fixture on a five-game winless run, while Houston has lost its last three games by a combined score of 8-0.
Despite the recent slides for both teams, they still remain in the top half of a competitive Eastern Conference, and both will be eager to head into the three-week break on a positive note.
Kansas City has taken just two points from its five most recent matches, and the club is coming off of a 1-0 defeat at D.C. United last time out that saw United's Fabian Espindola net the loan goal of the contest in the first half.
Sporting will be one of the teams in MLS that will be happy once the World Cup is over so the team can get back some key players to start the second half of the season.
In addition to playmaking midfielder Graham Zusi, Sporting is very thin along the back line as defender Matt Besler has joined Zusi with the United States national team.
Besler is Sporting's top defender, but the headaches don't stop there for head coach Peter Vermes, who is also missing Chance Myers and Ike Opara through injury.
Sporting kept five clean sheets in the first nine games of the season, but the club hasn't held an opponent without a goal in any of its last five matches.
Houston's struggles have been in the offensive third with the team going three successive matches without finding the net.
All three of those games came away from BBVA Compass Stadium, so the Dynamo will be happy to return to familiar surroundings where they hope the goals start to flow.
Consistency from the team in general has been a problem so far for Dominic Kinnear's men with the defense especially showing signs of a cohesive unit one game, and then struggling badly in the next.
The Dynamo has given up the most goals in MLS this season with 27, yet the team is tied for the second-most clean sheets in the league with five.
Midfielder Brad Davis being away with the U.S. national team hasn't helped, but defender David Horst believes an overall lack of communication has been a problem as well.
"Over the past couple of games I think that's been a problem for us," Horst said when asked about the communication in the team. "Right now, communication-wise from the back to the midfield and midfield to the forwards hasn't been what it should be."
Kinnear would certainly like to see those results turn around, and he thinks the match against Sporting, which has become somewhat of a rival for Houston in recent seasons, is coming at a good time for his team.
"[The rivalry] always gets your blood flowing a little bit," Kinnear told the Dynamo's website. "It's important for us to really forget quickly what happened and move forward to this game. It's been a good rivalry over the years, there's always been some hotly-contested games and I don't think this Friday will be any different so I think it's a good pick-up for us."