MLS

Sporting Kansas City v Houston Dynamo: Olsen backs visitors to respond to 'punch in the face'

By Sports Desk May 10, 2024

The Houston Dynamo took a "punch in the face" as they exited the U.S. Open Cup at the hands of Detroit City on Tuesday, but Ben Olsen expects his team to respond when they go to Sporting Kansas City on Saturday.

Defending U.S. Open Cup champions Houston squandered a 2-0 lead against their USL Championship opponents in midweek before losing a dramatic penalty shoot-out 10-9.

They now turn their attentions back to MLS, sitting eighth in the Western Conference with 14 points from their first 10 games of the year, and Olsen expects them to bounce back.

"It's a good punch in the face. But I think they'll respond," Olsen said.

"We have a good group in there and I think we have the right character to turn this into a positive."

Sporting KC trail Houston by just three points in the standings, but they made it through their own U.S. Open Cup tie against Union Omaha in midweek, winning 2-1 in extra time.

Boss Peter Vermes is not overly concerned by the physical toll taken by having to play 120 minutes, pointing out Houston did likewise only one day earlier.

"Houston had to do the same yesterday. The only thing is they have a day extra rest," he said.

"We have just got to do the best we can to recover and get ready for that game. It was good. We used all of our subs. 

"Everybody's getting minutes and now we just have got to get ourselves recovered and get ready for Houston on Saturday."

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Sporting KC – Johnny Russell

Russell has scored eight goals against the Dynamo in all competitions, more than against any other opponent in his Kansas City career. He has scored against Houston at least once in each of the last six years.

Houston Dynamo – Ibrahim Aliyu

The Dynamo had a combined 22 shots on goal during their 0-0 draw with St. Louis City last Saturday, with top scorer Aliyu having five of those – the most by a Houston player in an MLS game this season.

The Nigerian has three goals this campaign and will be looking to get back on the scoresheet at the weekend.

MATCH PREDICTION: SPORTING KANSAS CITY WIN

Kansas City have won five straight home matches against Houston in all competitions and have only lost twice in their last 19 at home against the Dynamo in all competitions (11 wins, six draws) dating back to 2012.

However, Kansas City are winless in four straight home matches (two draws, two defeats) for the first time since a five-match drought between July and August in 2021. Sporting have conceded three times in each of their last four home matches, equalling the second-longest such streak in MLS history.

The Dynamo’s goalless draw with St. Louis City last week was their third straight regular-season match without a goal. Houston had been shut out in only two of their previous 18 regular-season matches dating back to last August. Their attacking issues mean Sporting go in as favourites. 

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

Sporting Kansas City – 47.7%

Draw – 27.7%

Houston Dynamo – 24.6%

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