Major League Soccer

Dynamo-Sporting Kansas City Preview

Sporting Kansas City's sole focus is on beating the Houston Dynamo, with Peter Vermes insisting they cannot afford to look further ahead - even if that means a welcome break.

Vermes' men are in pursuit of the top seed in the Western Conference, sitting two points behind leaders the Seattle Sounders having played a game more.

Sporting KC lost to Seattle last weekend but bounced back with a victory at FC Dallas before they host Houston on Sunday.

After that match, SKC will not play again for a fortnight due to an international break, meaning they do not need to leave anything in reserve.

But Vermes does not believe it is worth thinking about that rest period.

"Whenever over the years, especially early on in my career, I try to lay out a plan for a series of games, it's amazing how it always seems to just get interrupted by something happening that you don't expect, so everything changes," he said.

"As much as you try to plan a little bit, it really doesn't ever work. The planning is more about how you travel and those kind of things.

"The other stuff is hard to do, so that's why I look at it game to game.

"It's the sporting director in me that looks down the road; as a coach, I can't do it. I have to be focused on the game in hand, put everything we can into that game, and try to get the result we're striving for."

The Dynamo are also playing a third game in quick succession, with their prior run of seven points in three matches followed by an underwhelming one in two.

Coach Tab Ramos said: "We played so well in the week that we got seven points, and when we went to Minnesota [a 2-0 defeat], we didn't actually play poorly.

"We made a couple of mistakes and unfortunately we had to pay for that. It was hard to come back.

"That's what we talked about coming into this week. We've got to keep doing what we're doing. The team has been playing with confidence, we have been on the verge of winning all these games, but unfortunately they're not going our way."

Sporting Kansas City - Johnny Russell

Russell is undoubtedly Sporting KC's man of the moment, scoring in four successive games. He will hope to continue that run, but Vermes also spoke this week of how he has been impressed with the winger's dribbling - labeling him an "artist" - and character.

Houston Dynamo - Fafa Picault

Houston had their own form forward until the past two games. Picault scored four in three but then drew a blank as the Dynamo failed to find the net in consecutive matches. They need the attacker to find his shooting boots again.

- Houston have won just one of their past eight visits to Sporting in MLS play (D3 L4) dating back to the start of the 2015 season. Sporting have won four of the past five meetings at Children's Mercy Park, with Houston winning 5-2 in the other match in that time.

- Sporting Kansas City lost to Seattle 2-1 in their previous home game, but have not lost consecutive home matches since September 2019 (L2). Kansas City have scored at least one goal in each of their 14 home games in 2021; the last time they had a longer such run in a single season was in 2011 (16).

- Houston failed to score in their past two matches (D1 L1) but have not failed to score in three consecutive MLS matches since July 2016. Moreover, the Dynamo are the only team without a win on the road in 2021 (P14 D6 L8).

- Daniel Salloi and Russell have been directly involved, either together or individually, in Sporting's past seven goals (Salloi three goals, Russell three goals and two assists). Indeed, at least one of those two players has scored or assisted 19 of the 23 goals Kansas City have scored since late July.

- Picault has scored 57 per cent of the Dynamo's goals since the beginning of August (eight of 14), the best ratio among all MLS players in that span.

Updated October 2, 2021

Sports Data API Powered by STATS © 2022 by STATS PERFORM.
Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS PERFORM is strictly prohibited.