Dynamo (6-13-5, 23 points, eighth in Western Conference) at
Kansas City Wizards (8-9-6, 30 points, fourth in Eastern Conference)
Wednesday, September 22, 7:30 p.m. CT
CommunityAmerica Ballpark, Kansas City KS
All-time record: Houston leads 6-1-3 (5-1-3 regular season).
7:15 p.m. KHOU 11.2 (English)
7:00 p.m. TV Informa (Spanish)
8:00 p.m. SportsTalk 790 (English - match joined in progress)
7:00 p.m. La Ranchera 850 (Spanish)
Game Guide - downloadable PDF
Kansas City is jockeying for position in the playoff race, while Houston is playing for pride. That should be a potent mix as the two teams face off in the tight confines at CAB on limited rest.
The Dynamo won the first meeting handily, taking advantage of Davy Arnaud’s red card to control the match. The Dynamo may not have that luxury this time around as the red-hot Wizards try to protect their home turf.
Kansas City Wizards
Apart from FC Dallas, the Wizards are probably the hottest team in Major League Soccer at the moment. Kansas City has lost just once in its last 10 matches in all competitions and can point to victories against Columbus and Los Angeles on the road as proof of its resurgence.
Manager Peter Vermes’ squad is also at full strength with no real injury worries to disrupt what has become a very consistent starting lineup. Kei Kamara, with nine goals and four assists to his name thus far, will be leading the way against the Dynamo, from whom he was traded to Kansas City last September.
The Wizards will look for nothing less than a win to gain ground on the teams that stand ahead of them in the playoff race.
Houston has endured a difficult season that only got worse when it lost to Toronto FC last weekend, giving the team five losses in its last six games to effectively end any hope of making the playoffs.
“The season’s over,” head coach Dominic Kinnear said after the loss. “The way we’re playing, we are not going to do it. It’s sad to say it, but it is a reality.”
Trading long-time favorite and all-time appearance leader Brian Mullan to Colorado last week was also a bittersweet moment for a franchise that has won two MLS Cups since moving from San Jose. At this point, the Dynamo are playing for respect, something Kinnear won’t take lightly, no matter the situation.
Heroes & Villains
Ryan Smith and Kei Kamara vs. Houston's defense: Kamara, in the best season of his career, and Smith, one of the best dribblers in MLS, are the Wizards' most dangerous and productive players. With their team's playoff life at stake, both will be pinning their ears back in preparation for running at a Dynamo defense that has been abused at times this season.
Houston has the second-worst defense in the league, allowing 40 goals so far this season. If the Dynamo can finally tighten up in the back and can somehow harness Kamara and Smith, they have a chance to walk away with a result. Otherwise, they'll likely walk away with their 14th loss of the season.
Stat that makes you go “Hmm"
Despite holding down a reputation as one of the league’s best defensive teams during the past few years, leading the league or tying for the lead in defense in each of the last three years, Houston is second to last in MLS in goals allowed this season. The Dynamo have allowed 1.67 goals per game in 2010.
- Find Kei Kamara and Ryan Smith early and often on the wings.
- Keep Brian Ching from making an impact on set pieces.
- Prevent KC from starting its attack close to goal.
- Maximize size up top through service from the flanks.
OUT: MF Zoltan Hercegfalvi (R knee sprain/torn ACL)
OUT: MF Anthony Obodai (L knee surgery); MF Colin Clark (L knee surgery); QUESTIONABLE: GK Tally Hall (R ankle sprain); PROBABLE: FW Brian Ching (L knee sprain)