Match Preview: Dynamo at Sporting KC

Dynamo seek third conference championship in six years at Kansas City on Sunday

The Basics
Houston Dynamo at Sporting Kansas City
Sunday, November 6, 4:30 p.m. CT
LIVESTRONG Sporting Park, Kansas City, KS

All-time series: Dynamo lead 6-4-4 (1-0 playoffs)

BROADCAST INFORMATION
KPRC 950 - 4 p.m.
La Ranchera 850 - 4 p.m.
FOX Soccer - 4:30 p.m.
FOX Deportes - 4:30 p.m.

PREVIEW
The Houston Dynamo will try to win their third conference championship in six seasons on Sunday afternoon when they take on Sporting Kansas City in the Eastern Conference final. Houston reached the final with a 3-1 aggregate win over the Philadelphia Union, while Kansas City dominated defending champion Colorado 4-0. The Dynamo are appearing in their fourth conference final, with wins in 2006 and 2007. Houston and Kansas City met in the 2007 Western Conference championship game, a 2-0 Dynamo win.

REFEREE: Mark Geiger. SAR (bench): C.J. Morgante; JAR (opposite): Steven Taylor; 4th: Chris Penso

INJURY REPORT (as of Friday, November 4): HOUSTON DYNAMO – OUT: FW Cam Weaver (R hip) ... SPORTING KANSAS CITY – OUT: DF Daneil Cyrus (L foot fracture); MF Luke Sassano (R knee sprain); MF Peterson Joseph (R knee surgery); MF Konrad Warzycha (R knee surgery); PROBABLE: FW Omar Bravo (R abductor strain); MF Milos Stojcev (R ankle sprain)

GAME NOTES

  • Sunday’s match will be the fourth competitive meeting of the season between Houston and Kansas City, with Sporting leading the 2011 series 2-0-1. The Dynamo maintain a 6-4-4 edge in the all-time series in all competitions, including a win in the teams’ only previous playoff meeting. Houston had a nine-game unbeaten streak against Kansas City snapped on Sept. 22, 2010.
  • With the semifinal series sweep, Houston extended its unbeaten streak to eight games (6-0-2) and is now 9-2-4 in the last 15 games, dating back to a 3-1 win over Seattle on July 30. The unbeaten streak is the club’s longest since an 11-game regular-season unbeaten streak from April 19-June 20, 2009.
  • The Dynamo have won three consecutive road games for the second time in team history and the first time since 2007. Houston won at FC Dallas (Sept. 24), at Portland (Oct. 14), and at Philadelphia (Oct. 30) to improve its road record on the year to 3-6-9. During the regular season, the Dynamo ranked second in the league in road ties with nine and tied for the fourth fewest road losses of any team with six. The Dynamo are 1-3-2 all-time in road playoff games.
  • Houston midfielder Brad Davis is expected to become the first player in club history to appear in his 200th career Dynamo game in all competitions (out of 248). Davis also needs 28 minutes to set the club record for minutes played in all competitions. Davis has played 15,312 minutes, while former goalkeeper Pat Onstad played 15,339 minutes in his Houston career.
  • Brad Davis assisted on two of the Dynamo’s three goals against Philadelphia, giving him five assists for his postseason career. After notching assists in four consecutive games, Davis has a career-high 18 assists in 2011, adding a 19th in a September friendly against Monterrey.
  • Houston defender Corey Ashe became the 13th player in Dynamo history to make 100 starts for the club in all competitions in Thursday’s game.
  • Since establishing eight regulars of 11 starters on September 17, the Dynamo have gone 6-0-1 while playing four home games and three away games, outscoring opponents 12-4. Prior to that stretch, Houston was 8-9-12 with a -2 goal differential in MLS play.

NOTES ON PROJECTED HOUSTON STARTERS

  • GK Tally Hall – made 8 saves in 1-1 tie vs. KC on 7/16; made 10 saves in playoff opener at PHI on 10/30
  • RB Andre Hainault – had goal disallowed in 2009 Western Conference final at LA
  • CB Bobby Boswell – played 90 mins. in last 14 outings; missed 9/10 match at KC due to suspension
  • CB Geoff Cameron – played 90 mins. in 35 of 36 MLS games; missed 5/4 match vs. COL due to injury
  • LB Corey Ashe – made 100th career start in all competitions vs. PHI on 11/3; suffered 7 fouls in series
  • RM Danny Cruz – Houston is 8-2-5 when he starts in 2011; suffered 5 fouls in semifinal series
  • CM Luiz Camargo – team is 6-0-2 with 4 goals allowed from open play in his 8 starts
  • CM Adam Moffat – played 90 mins. in last 14 outings; missed 8/20 match vs. RSL due to suspension
  • LM Brad Davis – assists in 4 straight games; set to play 200th career Dynamo game in all competitions
  • FW Calen Carr – more than doubled career playoff minutes from 134 to 299 with 2 starts, 1 goal vs. PHI
  • FW Brian Ching – has scored in five of his last six postseasons, including game-winning goal vs. PHI

HOUSTON VS. KANSAS CITY -- PART II

  • The lineups from the 2007 Western Conference championship game between the clubs included Brian Ching, Brad Davis, Eddie Robinson, and current assistant coach Wade Barrett for Houston, with Corey Ashe available as a substitute. Kansas City’s lineup included Davy Arnaud, Michael Harrington, and current assistant coach Kerry Zavagnin, with Eric Kronberg available as a substitute.

PLAYOFF NOTES

  • Houston is 8-4-3 all-time in the MLS Cup Playoffs (counting the 2006 final as a tie). Houston has been the No. 2 seed in its conference in four of five appearances, reaching the conference final each time.
  • Seven Dynamo players made their playoff debuts in the first leg of the semifinal series, including starting goalkeeper Tally Hall; midfielders Luiz Camargo, Danny Cruz, and Adam Moffat; and substitutes Will Bruin, Carlo Costly, and Je-Vaughn Watson.
  • The Dynamo have scored first in five of their 15 all-time playoff games, including both games of the semifinal series, and they have won all five. Houston is 3-4-2 when allowing the first goal, including wins in the 2006 Western Conference final, the 2007 Western Conference semifinal, and the 2007 MLS Cup.
  • Of Houston’s 20 all-time playoff goals, a remarkable 14 have been scored after the 60th minute, including four overtime goals. Three of those were scored by forward Brian Ching, with a tying header in the 2006 MLS Cup final and game-winners in the second leg of Western Conference semifinals in 2007 and 2009. Ching ranks second among active players with eight playoff goals, trailing only Landon Donovan (17).
  • Midfielder Brad Davis has appeared in all 15 Dynamo playoff games, starting 14, while forward Brian Ching has started 14 but missed the 2007 MLS Cup final due to injury.
  • According to MLSsoccer.com writer Elijah Miller, the Dynamo are the youngest team to qualify for the 2011 playoffs, with an average age of 26.51 in the regular season, slightly younger than Eastern Conference opponents Kansas City (26.80), Columbus (26.92), and Philadelphia (26.97).

DYNAMO NOTES

  • Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear earned his 100th career MLS regular season win in the Oct. 23 regular-season finale. Kinnear became the fifth coach in league history to reach that milestone, joining Seattle coach Sigi Schmid (157), LA coach Bruce Arena (128), Bob Bradley (124), and Steve Nicol (112). Kinnear has quality to go with his quantity: His .567 career winning percentage ranks fourth in league history.
  • Since a 3-0 loss at Chivas USA on July 23, the Dynamo have been one of the top teams in MLS, posting an 9-2-4 record in their last 15 games. That stretch includes a 7-1 record against Western Conference teams; Houston is 9-5-4 on the season against its former conference.
  • Brazilian midfielder Luiz Camargo has started the last eight MLS games for the Dynamo, and the team has posted a 6-0-2 record in those contests. The insertion of Camargo has allowed Geoff Cameron to shift to center back and has, for the last seven games, pushed Andre Hainault to right back. The Dynamo have allowed just four goals from open play in eight games with Camargo in midfield.
  • Midfielder Brad Davis, a league MVP candidate, finished the season with 16 assists, the most in MLS and a career high, and added one in each leg of the semifinal series. Davis also led the league in chances created, both overall and from the run of play, according to MLS stats partner Opta. In all competitions, Davis has recorded at least 11 assists for the Dynamo in five of his six seasons, falling short of that total only in 2007, when he missed 13 MLS games due to injury.
  • Midfielder Danny Cruz has missed time due to injury in his third professional season, but the Dynamo are 8-2-5 when the 21-year-old sparkplug starts a match.
  • All-Star Geoff Cameron has made nine starts on defense in 2011, including the final six regular-season games and both legs of the semifinal series. When Cameron starts on defense, Houston’s goals against average has been 0.89, while it rises to 1.26 in all other MLS games.
  • Houston has scored in the final 11 minutes to win or tie a game on 10 separate occasions this season, including six times in a nine-game span from August 6-September 24.
  • With a 10-3-4 home record, the Dynamo finished tied for second in MLS in home points per game (2.0) and tied the club record for home regular season wins, set in 2008 with a 10-1-4 record. Including Thursday’s playoff game, the Dynamo finished 7-0-2 in their last nine home games, dating back to a 2-0 loss to Columbus on June 18.
  • Houston has scored first in 16 out of 36 MLS games on the season; the Dynamo are 11-1-4 when notching the first goal and 3-8-7 when the opponent scores first; there have been two 0-0 ties. Houston’s 10 results when allowing the first goal tied Seattle for the most in MLS; the Dynamo’s winning percentage when allowing the first goal (.361) ranked third.

SPREADING THE WEALTH
The Dynamo received goals from 17 different players in 2011 out of a total of 25 field players who have taken the field in an MLS game. Houston had seven players with at least four goals in the regular season, including co-scoring leaders Bobby Boswell, Geoff Cameron, Brian Ching, and Will Bruin with five goals each and Colin Clark, Brad Davis, and Cam Weaver with four goals apiece.

BETTER LATE THAN NEVER
The Dynamo scored 23 of 45 regular-season goals (51.1%) in the final 15 minutes of a half, portions of the game that make up 30 percent of a match. Houston scored 14 goals in the final 15 minutes, second in MLS.

RE-WRITING THE RECORD BOOKS
Brad Davis
is playing his way to the top of the Dynamo statistic charts. Davis is the all-time club leader in games played in all competitions (199) and MLS (159); games started in all competitions (181) and MLS (145); minutes played in MLS (12,372); and assists in all competitions (73) and MLS (62). Davis also ranks second in team history in minutes played in all competitions (15,312) and third in goals in all competitions (23) and MLS goals (21).

ALWAYS THERE
Goalkeeper Tally Hall was one of just four players in MLS to contest all 3,060 minutes of the MLS regular season. Hall and midfielder Brad Davis were the only Houston players to start each MLS game.

UP NEXT: MLS CUP FINAL
Sunday’s winner will advance to the 2011 MLS Cup final, to be held on Sunday, November 20, at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. Houston won both its previous trips to the final, taking back-to-back titles in 2006-07, while Kansas City won the 2000 MLS Cup final and lost the 2004 championship game.

NEW BLOOD
Of the Dynamo’s 26 players on the roster, 14 are new to the orange in 2011. Houston acquired three players via draft (Kofi Sarkodie, Will Bruin, Evan Newton), four via trade (Colin Clark, Jason Garey, Calen Carr, Adam Moffat), five via international signings (Hunter Freeman, Jermaine Taylor, Je-Vaughn Watson, Carlo Costly, Luiz Camargo), and two via the Dynamo Academy (Alex Dixon, Josue Soto).

LOCAL FLAVOR
Almost one-third of the Dynamo’s current roster has close ties to Texas. Six players are native Texans (Bobby Boswell, Tyler Deric, Alex Dixon, Hunter Freeman, Francisco Navas Cobo, Josue Soto), Colin Clark attended SMU in Dallas, and Jason Garey (Gonzales, La.) has a sister, Melissa, who was a standout player at Texas A&M University in College Station.