Dynamo plenty familiar with Kansas City

Eastern Conference foes set for third meeting of 2011 season

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Photo Credit: 
Wilf Thorne/Houston Dynamo

The Houston Dynamo are hoping the third time's a charm when they visit Sporting Kansas City on Saturday (3 p.m.; TeleFutura, KPRC 950 AM, La Ranchera 850 AM).

The clubs first met this year on April 6 in College Station 
in a U.S. Open Cup match that KC won 1-0 in extra time. Then on July 16, the teams played to an exciting 1-1 draw that saw the Dynamo almost pull out a tie despite red cards to Colin Clark and Brian Ching. Sporting's Aurélien Collin tallied a deflected equalizer at the death. In the rubber match, the Dynamo are confident they have a handle on what they will see this weekend.

“There’s not many players on Kansas City that we haven’t seen live,
bar Jéferson,” said Houston coach Dominic Kinnear. “We know the way they
play, so if we step on the field and do a good enough job of preparing
the team, then, individually and collectively, there will be no surprises
at this point.”

MORE: Houston-Kansas City match preview

The question is: In a match with major playoff implications, is that familiarity helpful?

“We know them well, and they know us well, but in the end it’s a big
game because they're a point ahead of us,” defender Andre Hainault said.
“Does it help having seen them a lot? Sure. But we know what we need to
do, and we know the task at hand.”

Replacing Boswell
Houston will have a hole to fill in the middle of their defense, as
Bobby Boswell is suspended because of yellow-card accumulation. Looking
forward, Kinnear will have to examine his options to repair the back
line, and there could be some interesting possibilities.

“I think with Andre and Jermaine [Taylor] back, there’s some
possibilities there,” Kinnear said. “With Luiz [Camargo] in midfield,
there’s also the possibility of pushing Geoff [Cameron] back there. It
just depends on the overall fitness of the group.”

MORE: Cameron's versatility continues to impress

Regardless of who is playing where, Houston is banking on a level of comfort among the defenders.

“Whether it’s Jermaine or a guy like Geoff, whoever it is, we’ll have
a couple of trainings before and we’ll be fine,” said Hainault, who has
been a mainstay at center back. “We know each other well. We’ve been
here all season and played together, so it’s nothing new.”

Pitch not a concern
Kansas City’s LIVESTRONG Sporting Park is one of the gems of
MLS, but the pitch has taken a beating in recent weeks, both literally
and in the media. The field conditions have been a topic of discussion,
but Dynamo players were not concerned.

“Over my career, I’ve played on a lot of bad fields,” Ching said.
“It’s not something we think about, and we’ll just have to deal with
it.”

Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on Twitter at @dynamoexaminer.