Not so fast, say Houston.
The Dynamo have played Sporting KC three times this season in all competitions, but have only faced Melia once. That match, a 2-0 SKC win in the US Open Cup, came before the likely MLS Goalkeeper of the Year injured his hamstring earlier this month.
Though Dynamo forward Romell Quioto seemed to imply that Melia's absence might be a slight advantage, but said the Dynamo would have a bigger leg up due to the home crowd at BBVA Compass Stadium.
“Apart from that [Tim Melia not playing] we have the advantage that we're playing at home in front of our fans,” Quioto said. “We've shown that we're a strong team at home and we hope we can continue that trend.”
Back in Kansas City, MLS veteran Andrew Dykstra has taken over while Melia has been out. He’s started three games since Melia went down, with two of those matches coming against the Dynamo. Houston won, 2-1, in their first meeting with Dykstra on Oct. 11, but were shut out by the former D.C. and Chicago ‘keeper four days later in a scoreless draw at Children’s Mercy Park.
Dykstra perhaps could’ve done more to save Houston’s opener in the Dynamo’s 2-1 home win, as he got a hand to Tomás Martínez’s 63rd minute volley but couldn’t turn it away.
Despite that flub, Deric doesn’t see any advantage in having Melia out and Dysktra in on Thursday.
“I know Andrew Dysktra, he’s a good goalkeeper,” said Dynamo ‘keeper Tyler Deric. “There’s a lot of good No. 1s and good No. 2s in this league. It doesn’t matter who’s our opponent across from us. We have our game plan that we’re going to stick to.”
While they didn’t say that Melia’s absence will be a leg-up on Thursday, the Dynamo did acknowledge that the 31-year-old has been excellent this season.
“He’s one of the top two, top three this year,” Deric said. “Consistency-wise he was very good. He made some big saves for them in key games.”
Houston head coach Wilmer Cabrera coached Melia while in charge of Chivas USA in 2014. Melia would join Sporting KC a year later and go on to win 2015 Comeback Player of the Year.
Cabrera agreed with Deric that Melia has been one of the best ‘keepers in the league.
“He’s been very important and key for them throughout the season,” he said.