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Dynamo-Sporting Kansas City Preview
Sporting Kansas City is doing all it can to find a way into playoff position in the Western Conference.
SKC looks for a season-high third consecutive victory while trying to extend the visiting Houston Dynamo's winless stretch to seven games on Saturday night.
With seven matches remaining, Sporting Kansas City (9-11-7) finds itself six points out of the final playoff spot in the West. Kansas City has made the MLS Cup playoffs in eight straight seasons, but obviously has some work left in order to keep that streak alive. However, SKC has won back-to-back games - over quality sides in San Jose and Minnesota - for just the second time in 2019.
"I'm not going to talk about where we're going," coach Peter Vermes told SKC's official website following last week's 1-0 home victory over Minnesota. "All I know is that we have an objective. We have to gain as many points as we can between now and the end of the season. We have a lot of work to do, and right now it starts with our game (Saturday)."
Kansas City played Houston to a 1-1 draw on the road back on June 1. However, that was one of just four times over the last 16 matches that the Dynamo earned at least one point.
Not to mention that Houston (9-14-4) is 2-11-0 on the road and has been outscored 14-6 while going 0-5-1 overall since winning 3-1 at Toronto FC on July 20.
All that could play into the favor of SKC, but it won't take anything for granted. Especially with such little room for error. Plus, interim Dynamo manager Davy Arnaud made 240 appearances with the Kansas City franchise from 2002-11, and should have some incentive to motivate his club.
"(Houston is) a team that desperately wants to win right away," Kansas City midfielder Roger Espinoza said. "(Arnaud) is a very hard-working guy and I'm sure he's going to demand the same from his players."
Houston, which looked like a sure-bet playoff team in mid-May, is now three points back of SKC and trying to salvage something positive from a season that's spiraled completely out of control.
It only got worse with last weekend's 5-1 loss at FC Dallas. Memo Rodriguez scored the Dynamo's lone goal in the 80th minute, moments before some rowdy Houston supporters were asked to leave Toyota Stadium for alleged questionable behavior.
"We saw some things from ourselves that we didn't like," Arnaud told the Dynamo's official website. "Of course we have to learn it, but you do have to move on. You have to understand that there is another game to prepare for. There's seven games left, there's 21 points still available."
Amid the mess of what this season has become for the Dynamo is the continued solid play of Mauro Manotas (11 goals, six assists). The Colombian has three goals and an assist over his last four games.
SKC's Erik Hurtado has played six league games for the club in 2019 and has two goals, including the winner versus Minnesota last week.
Updated August 29, 2019