The Houston Dynamo host Sporting Kansas City in the 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs at Shell Energy Stadium in a postseason rivalry renewed.

Houston needed to go the distance in their first-round series with Real Salt Lake, winning the decisive Game 3 in a penalty shootout to advance to the Western Conference semifinals.

Kansas City pulled off the only upset of the opening round, stunning archrivals and top seed St. Louis City SC in a two-game sweep, outscoring them 6-2.

This is the sixth time the two sides have met in the playoffs with the Dynamo winning four of the previous five, including the most recent in 2017. SKC has never won a postseason match in Houston.

The winner of this match will advance to the Western Conference Final to play either defending MLS champions LAFC or second-seed Seattle Sounders.

Team news

Houston Dynamo

Forward Ifunanyachi Achara and defender Tate Schmitt have both been ruled out through knee injuries.

Sporting Kansas City

Defenders Kortne Ford (Achilles surgery), Logan Ndenbe (torn ACL) and Kayden Pierre (hamstring) have all been ruled out with midfielder Felipe Gutierrez (knee) also sidelined.

Dany Rosero has a facial injury with his status officially listed as questionable.

Forward Alan Pulido was named MLS Comeback Player of the Year after missing all of last season with a knee injury and returning to score 15 goals and pick up six assists.

Predicted lineups

Houston Dynamo: Clark; Escobar, Maciel, Sviatchenko, Dorsey; Herrera, Artur; Quiñónes, Bassi, Carrasquilla; Baird

Sporting Kansas CityMelia; Leibold, Fontàs, Rosero, Davis; Kinda, Radoja, Walter; Sallói, Pulido, Russell

Ones to watch

Amine Bassi (Houston Dynamo)

With Hector Herrera deservedly getting most of the attention, it's easy to forget how valuable the Moroccan, who shone at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, is with 12 goals and four assists.

Bassi scored the winning goal in Game 1 against Salt Lake.

Daniel Salloi (Sporting Kansas City)

Similarly, much of the Kansas City attack revolves around Pulido but Sallói has had a very balanced season, scoring nine times and picking up 11 assists to form a lethal trio with Pulido and Russell.

The Hungarian scored in both games of SKC's upset of St. Louis.

Photo: Bill Barrett/ISI Photos/Getty Images
Photo: Bill Barrett/ISI Photos/Getty Images

Previous meetings

On July 8, Ivan Franco rescued a point for Houston, scoring in the eighth minute of second-half stoppage time in a 2-2 draw.

Alan Pulido had given SKC a 25th-minute lead as he lifted a shot over onrushing Dynamo goalkeeper Steve Clark before Ibrahim Aliyu scored his first-ever MLS goal to level for Houston.

Pulido bagged his brace and restored Kansas City's lead. Gadi Kinda was fouled by Artur and Pulido stepped up to beat Clark, who dove to his right.

That looked to be enough until Thorleifur Ulfarsson headed a pass to Franco, who beat Kendall McIntosh.

September 23 saw SKC grab a 2-1 victory, Johnny Russell and Gadi Kinda supplying the goals to move them within a point of the playoff line.

Russell converted from the penalty spot after just seven minutes were played, Sebastian Kowlaczyk whistled for a handball on a shot from Erik Thommy.

The Scot was then sent off for a hard foul on the right touch line after making contact with the ball. Having not been ruled a foul on the field, VAR reversed the call.

Despite being down a man, Kansas City doubled their advantage as Thommy's shot caromed off of two Houston defenders before falling to the feet of Willy Agada, whose shot left Clark with no chance.

The Dynamo would pull one back three minutes later as Ethan Barlow lofted the ball into the box where a waiting Teenage Hadebe fired home from close range.

How to watch

The match will be televised nationally on Fox Sports 1 with Nate Bukaty serving as the play-by-play announcer and Tony Meola as analyst.

Additionally, Apple TV + has live streaming coverage with Kevin Egan and Kyndra de St. Aubin on the call.

Kickoff is set for 7pm Eastern time.

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