Two teams desperate for points in the Western Conference playoff race will square off Saturday when Sporting Kansas City (9-11-7, 34 points) plays host to rival Houston Dynamo (9-14-4, 31 points) at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas.
Tickets for the 7:30 p.m. showdown remain available at SeatGeek.com and the first 7,500 fans through the stadium gates will receive a free Sporting-branded mobile phone.
FOX Sports Kansas City Plus, FOX Sports Midwest Plus and FOX Sports GO will provide three hours of live coverage on Saturday beginning at 7 p.m., while local radio broadcasts will air live on ESPN 94.5 FM (English) and ESPN Deportes KC 1480 AM (Spanish). Supporters can also access the Sporting KC app for additional in-game updates.
Currently six points shy of the seventh and final playoff spot in the West, Sporting claimed a pivotal 1-0 home win over Minnesota United FC last Thursday to bolster their hopes of extending an impressive postseason streak that began in 2011.
The contest was decided in the 88th minute when forward Erik Hurtado ran onto a Johnny Russell through ball and slotted home for his second game-winning goal of the month.
Saturday presents Sporting the opportunity to notch its first three-game winning streak of 2019, having opened the August homestand with a 2-1 defeat of the San Jose Earthquakes on Aug. 17.
Manager Peter Vermes’ men are three points behind the eighth-place Portland Timbers (11-11-4, 37 points) and seventh-place FC Dallas (11-10-7, 40 points) -opponents who will account for three of Sporting’s final seven regular season games. A remarkably tight Western Conference table sees just three points separate second place from seventh, with Portland and Sporting both aiming to hop above the playoff line.
While Sporting has enjoyed a recent uptick in form, Houston is reeling amid a brutal summertime drought.
The Dynamo suffered a 5-1 setback to FC Dallas in the Texas Derby last Sunday, pushing their winless skid to six matches and dropping their MLS record since May 25 to 2-12-2. Houston’s two wins over the last three months -as well as their two shutouts over the course of 2019 – are tied for the fewest in the league.
An intriguing plot twist this weekend will see a former Kansas City great set out to dash his former club’s playoff hopes.
Houston interim head coach and former Sporting midfielder Davy Arnaud took the helm earlier this month after Wilmer Cabrera was relieved of his duties.
Arnaud has served as a Dynamo assistant since 2017 and has been tasked with keeping the team afloat over the final month of the season. The Texas native plied his trade in Kansas City from 2002-2011, amassing 52 goals and 40 assists in 273 competitive appearances as one of the club’s most accomplished players.
Sporting and Houston most recently met on June 1 at BBVA Compass Stadium, scrapping out a 1-1 draw after trading second-half goals. Yohan Croizet fired the visitors ahead near the hour-mark, but Honduran winger Alberth Elis conjured a quick response to split the points. Elis has seven goals and a team-best eight assists this season, while fellow forward Mauro Manotas leads the side with 11 goals.
Familiarity reigns in this particular series as Sporting and Houston prepare to lock horns for the 32nd time in all competitions since the start of 2012. Vermes’ side holds the narrowest of edges during that stretch, posting an 11-10-10 record.
Houston’s last visit to Children’s Mercy Park in June 2018 served up a five-goal thriller in which Sporting overturned a 2-0 halftime deficit to prevail 3-2. Manotas struck twice before the break, but Homegrown forward Daniel Salloi orchestrated a wild comeback with a goal and two assists.
Neither team will have the worry of a lengthy injury list on Saturday. Houston goalkeeper Tyler Deric is likely to miss out with a concussion, having played just five matches this season, while Sporting’s backup keeper Adrian Zendejas will be sidelined with a back ailment.