Join Now  | 
Home About Contact Us Privacy & Security Advertise
Soccer America Daily Soccer World Daily Special Edition Around The Net Soccer Business Insider College Soccer Reporter Youth Soccer Reporter Soccer on TV Soccer America Classifieds Game Report
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalk Soccer America Confidential Youth Soccer Insider World Cup Watch
RSS Feeds Archives Manage Subscriptions Subscribe
Order Current Issue Subscribe Manage My Subscription Renew My Subscription Gift Subscription
My Account Join Now
Tournament Calendar Camps & Academies Soccer Glossary Classifieds
Game 2 will be much livelier, but won't be a ballet
by Ridge Mahoney, November 21st, 2013 11:39PM
Subscribe to Soccer America Daily

MOST READ
TAGS:  houston dynamo, mls, sporting kansas city

MOST COMMENTED

[MLS PLAYOFFS: Sporting KC-Houston] Playoff matches tend to be tighter and closer than those played in the regular season, yet when Houston and Sporting Kansas City meet, they take that condition to the extreme.

No game in the last five between the two teams has produced more than two goals, and the teams are even at 0-0 heading into the second leg Saturday at Sporting Park (7:30 ET, NBCSN, Univision Deportes). SKC fans won’t take much solace from their team being at home, because that’s where Houston has knocked out SKC the past two seasons.

And yes, SKC rides into this game on a five-game unbeaten streak against Houston but that edge is so thin as to be nearly invisible.

In three regular-season meetings this year, there have been two ties (0-0 and 1-1) and an SKC victory (1-0). SKC won by the same score last year in the second leg of the conference semifinals and lost the series, 2-1, on aggregate. The Dynamo went on to play in its second consecutive MLS Cup, which it lost to the Galaxy, 3-1.

As it did last year, SKC takes the field knowing a series victory would empower it to host the championship game. Yet, again, Sporting Park hasn’t much fazed the battle-hardened Dynamo. Two years ago, in a one-off conference final, it beat SKC, 2-0, with goals by Andre Hainault and Carlos Costly, who are no longer with the team, and scored both goals without Brad Davis, knocked out of the game in the 39th minute by a quadriceps injury.

Davis is healthy and ready this time, but Houston may have to go without midfielder Ricardo Clark, who suffered a leg injury in the first game and whose status for Game 2 is unclear. Davis can pull midfield strings with the best of them, and the Dynamo can also unleash Oscar Boniek Garcia, who left the team for international duty with Honduras but came back sharp after head coach Luis Fernando Suarez used him for just 75 minutes in two friendlies.

“I think Suarez did us a favor by saving him a lot of minutes on Tuesday,” Coach Dominic Kinnear said on a conference call with reporters Thursday. “He’s in good shape and says he feels good.”

Garcia’s normal spot on the right side matches him up against SKC left back Seth Sinovic, who is one of the few defenders in the league who can match his speed. Sinovic will need help if Garcia cuts across him to the inside and how well centerback Matt Besler or a midfielder can deal with that situation greatly affects an SKC defense that conceded 33 goals, second-fewest in MLS, during the regular season.



In a stodgy, pedestrian first leg, most of the players struggled from fatigue imposed by a hectic playoff schedule. Houston was playing its sixth game in 17 days, SKC its fifth. Only five shots, combined, were on target. There were 23 fouls and many heavy collisions. After a run of high-scoring, thrilling playoff matches, Houston and SKC slogged through the first 0-0 postseason snoozer.

Yet SKC midfielder Graham Zusi zipped about the field probing and foraging, Davis and Garcia are usually dangerous, and since both teams have been resting during the international break, the second leg should be much livelier even if these teams labor to score on each other. Still, it won’t be a ballet. The soccer should be better, but the call again will be to battle stations.


1 comment
  1. I w Nowozeniuk
    commented on: November 22, 2013 at 8:23 a.m.
    One thing for sure, performance expectations are premature as the contest will speak for itself while the TV commentary is expected to be samo-samo, brutal small talk and winded to the nth degree.

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Soccer America Daily
What They're Saying: Dwight Yorke    
"I couldn't quite believe what was happening. I have lost count of the number of times ...
U.S. Abroad: Brooks' Hertha holds Bayern    
John Brooks' Hertha Berlin was seconds away from beating Bayern Munich when Robert Lewandowski scored to ...
USA loses opener of U-20 World Cup qualifying     
The USA's qualifying campaign for the 2017 U-20 World Cup started poorly when it fell, 1-0, ...
USL: John Harkes is fired as FC Cincinnati coach    
FC Cincinnati is one the feel-good stories of recent years, a team that caught fire in ...
What They're Saying: Jakson Follmann    
"It's not for me to stay stuck in a corner, sad and begging for my leg, ...
MLS Focus: Homegrown players face stiff competition    
The 2017 season marks the 10th year of MLS's Homegrown program. Two rookies -- Ian Harkes ...
Datebook: D.C. United to hold groundbreaking on Feb. 27    
D.C. United will hold a groundbreaking ceremony for 20,000-seat Audi Field on Feb. 27 after it ...
MLS Moves: Stertzer parlays trial into NYCFC contract    
Known more for blockbuster deals rather than shrewd signings of role players, New York City FC ...
What They're Saying: Dax McCarty    
"Thank you for the 2 most successful seasons in club history. Don't let the door hit ...
MLS Preseason: Revs encouraged by Kouassi's brief debut    
A long, long wait for Xavier Kouassi ended Wednesday when he started and played 17 minutes ...
>> Soccer America Daily Archives