HOUSTON — The Houston Dynamo have played spoiler to Sporting Kansas City's MLS Cup dreams in each of the last two seasons, knocking off top-seeded Sporting twice on their way to the final.
On Sunday, the Dynamo are keenly aware that SKC would like nothing better than to exact revenge by snapping Houston's record 36-game home unbeaten streak and getting in the way of a little history of their own (7 pm CT, BUY TICKETS).
“We’ve got them in the playoffs the last two years so I think they want to come in and get us," forward Will Bruin told MLSsoccer.com. "It’s the same way with us and LA — we want to get them whenever we play them. It’s going to be a good test.”
Houston vs. Sporting KC is becoming one of the Eastern Conference's most competitive rivalries. The clubs have squared off five times over the last two regular seasons and have split the total points, going an even 1-1-3. But when it has counted most in the MLS Cup playoffs, the Dynamo hold the bragging rights: two victories in three games and a pair of conference championships to show for it.
“I think when we play them, we rise to the occasion,” Corey Ashe told MLSsoccer.com. “I think we play hard for 90 minutes, we don’t take breaks and we bring it to them. If we let them get comfortable, they’ll dictate the flow of the game and they have a lot of good players that can punish you.”
The lopsided playoff results are the source of the rivalry, but the way the teams play have added to the rivalry's fire.
Both teams employ a hard, physical brand of soccer that normally ends up with players on the ground and some hurt feelings and raised tempers.
Houston expect SKC to come to town and try and take the game to them. So the Dynamo's plan is to try and land the first blow in a game that, from what history tells us, will be a battle from the from opening kick.
"You don’t want the other team to like you when they play against you," goalkeeper Tally Hall said. "We don’t want them to like us after the game because of how physical we are and the way we’re passing the ball and making it difficult for them. I don’t think they like us much anyways, so I think it’s a game we’ll have to be playing at our very best,“
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.