Kansas City Wizards (2-1-1) at Houston Dynamo (2-2-1)
Saturday, May 1, 7:30 p.m.
All-Time Record: The Dynamo lead the all-time series 5-1-3, 4-1-3 in MLS regular season play.
Gameday Info, including soccer ball giveaway courtesy of Statoil
Hear from Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear and defender Andrew Hainault at Thursday's press conference:
What's at stake?
Houston attempts to rebound from a bad loss to Chicago in which they lost midfielder Geoff Cameron for the season. The Dynamo’s makeshift lineup will attempt to combat one of the hottest teams in MLS, while Kansas City will hope a road victory against a veteran Houston squad will help position them as one of the teams to beat in MLS.
On Oct. 4 of last season, both sides needed a win as Houston wanted to earn home-field advantage for the playoffs, while Kansas City was still fighting for the last playoff spot. An early red card by Cam Weaver left the Dynamo short-handed for most of the match, but Luis Angel Landin scored his only goal thus far in MLS, and Houston held the lead until the 73rd minute. However, the Wizards’ Zoltan scored a beautiful goal from a long ball played over the top of the Dynamo defense, and the match ended in a disappointing draw for both teams.
Heroes & villains
Luis Ángel Landín vs. Pablo Escobar – As Elvis Presley sang, “It’s Now or Never,” and that expression clearly to applies to Landin. The Dynamo forward is likely to start on Saturday, and Houston are relying on their designated player to put together some solid performances as the team heads into a stretch of four matches in 13 days. With Jimmy Conrad likely out, Escobar will probably get the start alongside Matt Besler. The young defender filled in well last week against Los Angeles.
Kei Kamara vs. Bobby Boswell – Kamara made his displeasure known after he was traded from Houston to Kansas City at the end of last season. While Kamara is contributing to Kansas City, he is also coming off quite possibly the worst miss in MLS history. Scoring a goal against his former teammates will go a long way in erasing that memory and rebuilding his confidence. Boswell continues to anchor a perennially strong Dynamo defense, though the backline has struggled out of the gates.
Stat that makes you go "Hmm …"
The Wizards have conceded only one goal thus far in MLS play. Head coach Peter Vermes has talked about instilling a “defense-first” approach for the entire team, and it seems to be paying early dividends.
He said it
“We want to be physical against them, as you don’t want them to have their way and let their confidence [on the ball] grow. We have to play tight and physical, and there wasn’t enough of that against Chicago. We have to up our intensity and make sure we are going in hard.” — Houston defender Andrew Hainault.