2017 Audi MLS Cup Playoff Knockout Round: Houston Dynamo vs Sporting KC

Houston Dynamo, who finished fourth in the Western Conference will welcome the fifth-seeded Sporting Kansas City to BBVA Compass Stadium on Thursday.

2017 Audi MLS Cup Playoff Knockout Round: Houston Dynamo vs Sporting KC
Vincente Sánchez and Ike Opara earlier in the season. | Photo: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Dynamo will welcome Sporting Kansas City to BBVA Compass Stadium for a win or go home playoff game on Thursday. Houston is a very strong side at home ending the season with just one home loss. On the other hand, Sporting KC does not play well on the road finishing the season at 2-8-7 away from Children's Mercy Park.

Past meetings

Sporting Kansas City and the Houston Dynamo have a lengthy playoff history which dates back about a decade. Back in 2007 when Sporting KC still went by the name "Kansas City Wizards", the two clubs met in the playoffs for the first time in the Western Conference Championship. Houston won the game 2-0 en route to their second consecutive MLS Cup victory. 

Four years later and a conference change for the two clubs, they met again in 2011. Unfortunately for Kansas City, there was no change and Houston Dynamo won the match by the same score as the 2007 game once again sending them to the MLS Cup finals. However, Houston did not lift the cup this time after falling 1-0 to the LA Galaxy with the lone goal coming from Landon Donovan.

A year later, in 2012, the two clubs met again with this round taking place over two legs. Houston won the first leg 2-0. Once again, things were not looking good for Sporting KC. The second leg was different. Sporting KC completely outplayed Houston but the one goal they scored was not enough, and they were once again knocked out by Houston by an aggregate score of 2-1 in Houston's favor.

The two clubs crossed paths again in 2013 when they met in the Eastern Conference Championship. The first match, which took place at BBVA Compass Stadium, ended in a 0-0 draw. This set up for an exciting second leg in Kansas City. Things started well for Houston as they took the lead just three minutes into the game through a deflected goal from Boniek Garcia. C.J. Sapong leveled things for Sporting KC later in the first half after some good work from Benny Feilhaber. Some more Benny brilliance occurred in the 63rd minute when he played the ball to Dom Dwyer who tucked home the game-winner finally giving Sporting KC a win over Houston in the playoffs. Kansas City went on to win the cup that year, will it happen again?

Graham Zusi lifting the MLS Cup in 2013. | Photo: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Graham Zusi lifting the MLS Cup in 2013. | Photo: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Now, for the 2017 regular season. The two clubs met twice in the regular season with each club hosting the other once. Both games happened in October just four days apart. The first one took place in Houston and ended in a 2-1 win for the hosts. The one that took place in Kansas City ended in a 0-0 draw.

Team news

Houston Dynamo: The home side will definitely be missing three players in addition to a player who is listed as questionable. Dynamo fans recently found out that A.J. DeLaGarza tore his ACL and will miss the entirety of the playoffs. The defender started 30 regular season games in his first year with Houston.

Like DeLaGarza, George Malki is recovering from a torn ACL and will miss the playoffs. Homegrown player Memo Rodriguez is listed as questionable with a right knee sprain. The last player who may be sidelined through injury is Phillipe Senderos who is listed as questionable due to a right adductor strain.

The Houston Dynamo will be without A.J. DeLaGarza. | Photo: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
The Houston Dynamo will be without A.J. DeLaGarza. | Photo: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Sporting Kansas City: While the visitors have a shorter injury list, they'll be without Tim Melia who was widely regarded as the best goalkeeper in MLS this season. Tim is suffering from a right hamstring injury and will be replaced by Andrew Dykstra.

Cameron Porter, who is suffering from a broken fibula and ligament damage in his right ankle will also be unavailable for selection.

Possible scenarios

Both clubs have the potential of playing either of the two clubs who received a first-round bye in the Western Conference. If Houston wins, and so do Vancouver Whitecaps FC, then Houston will take on the Portland Timbers in the next round. However, if the San Jose Earthquakes overcome the Vancouver Whitecaps on Wednesday, then Houston would play Seattle Sounders FC.

Houston split the regular season series with Seattle by winning 2-1 at BBVA Compass Stadium but losing 1-0 on the road at CenturyLink Field. However, in two attempts, they could not beat Portland this season in two attempts. The attempt at Providence Park ended in a 4-2 win to Portland. Portland was also one of few teams able to take a point away from BBVA Compass Stadium so that might not be the team Houston fans want to see in the next round.

If Sporting KC gets the win over Houston, and Vancouver gets the win over San Jose, Kansas City will take on the Portland Timbers who they faced twice in the regular with success. Sporting KC took all three points from Providence Park through a Dom Dwyer goal. The clubs split the points at Children's Mercy Park later in the season with a 1-1 draw. However, if KC wins and so do the Earthquakes, Sporting KC will take on the Seattle Sounders who they played twice in the regular season. Each side took the win at their home field. Sporting KC had more success vs the Timbers in the regular season, but does anybody want to come up against this Portland side led by MVP candidate Diego Valeri right now? Even if they do, they'll have to get past the Houston Dynamo first.