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Houston Dynamo
Major League Soccer
Nov 27, 2023 at 12am UK
BBVA Compass Stadium
Sporting Kansas

1 - 0

Escobar (39')
Carrasquilla (68')
FT(HT: 1-0)

Leibold (78')

Preview: Houston Dynamo vs. Sporting Kansas City - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Monday's Major League Soccer clash between Houston Dynamo and Sporting Kansas City, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

The Houston Dynamo and Sporting Kansas City will face each other for the sixth time in the MLS Cup playoffs this weekend, with a place in the Western Conference final up for grabs on Sunday at Shell Energy Stadium.

Orange Crush knocked off RSL in the deciding match of the previous round, 4-3 on penalties, while Sporting defeated the top-seeded team in the Western Conference, St Louis City, 2-1 in early November, winning that series 2-0.

Match preview

Houston Dynamo head coach Ben Olsen watches on November 7, 2023© Reuters

It was a nerve-racking series against a pesky RSL side, but the Dynamo prevailed on penalties, advancing into the conference semi-finals for the first time since 2017.

At home or away, Ben Olsen usually has two different tactical approaches, operating in a pragmatic mid-block, transitional way on the road but shifting to a ball-dominant strategy in Houston.

He has some workhorses in the midfield that can make that possession approach work, as the Dynamo build from the back efficiently, with strong central midfielders that can create chances from short passes on the ground.

The Dynamo are an impressive 9-1-6 in their last 16 matches across all competitions since August 20, and they were only behind in one of those encounters during that stretch, losing to SKC 2-1 on September 23.

Since the conclusion of the Leagues Cup, Orange Crush lead the league with a +19-goal differential (including the playoffs), conceding just 10 times over that stretch.

Scoring first has been pivotal to their success throughout the domestic campaign, with Houston going 13-0-3 when drawing first blood while winning just once when conceding the opener.

Sporting Kansas City midfielder Gadi Kinda (10) is congratulated on September 17, 2023© Reuters

Sporting KC started peaking at the right time and have remained hot in the playoffs, losing just one of their previous seven domestic affairs and qualifying for the conference semi-finals for the third time in the last four MLS campaigns.

It took the newcomers of this squad some time to adjust to the Peter Vermes tactical approach of building through the midfield, but eventually it all seemed to click as Kansas City have been effective at shifting the opposing defence from one side to another to try to get a 1V1 matchup with one of their wingers and a fullback from the opposition.

Down the stretch of the season, Sporting have been effective when counter-pressing to maintain possession in the final third while scoring three or more goals in back-to-back away fixtures.

KC have won eight of their 11 matches played in MLS since the Leagues Cup ended, the second-most domestic victories over that stretch behind Orlando City (10).

From the start of May until the end of the 2023 regular season, Kansas City led the Western Conference in points (41), wins (12) and goals-per-game (1.88), while their seven defeats over that span were the fewest among Western Conference teams.

They have won three of their previous four MLS away matches since September 16 but have never triumphed in a playoff contest at Houston, failing to score in those four encounters.

Houston Dynamo Major League Soccer form:

Sporting Kansas City Major League Soccer form:

Team News

Houston Dynamo midfielder Amine Bassi (8) and his teammates on October 30, 2023© Reuters

The Dynamo will be without Tate Schmitt along with Ifunanyachi Achara for this encounter, as they are both dealing with knee injuries.

Corey Baird had the only Houston goal in their deciding game versus Salt Lake, his 14th across all competitions, second on the team behind Amine Bassi, while Steve Clark stopped one shot in the second shootout against them and Griffin Dorsey put home the winner.

Hector Herrera was second in the MLS regular season for assists (17), one of which came the last time they hosted Sporting in July when he set up their opening goal by Ibrahim Aliyu before Ivan Franco equalised in stoppage time to give them a 2-2 draw.

Erik Thommy will be questionable for SKC due to a sore calf, Tim Leibold has a groin strain and Jake Davis is dealing with a sprained knee.

Kayden Pierre has a problem in his hamstring, and Kortne Ford continues to recover from Achilles surgery, as both will be unavailable on Sunday.

Goals from Logan Ndenbe and Daniel Salloi propelled them to a 2-1 victory in the second game of their series with St Louis City, Gadi Kinda had a goal and three assists in that series and Johnny Russell has five goal contributions in his last five MLS appearances.

Last week, Alan Pulido was named the MLS Comeback Player of the Year, Remi Walter can make his 100th career start for SKC this weekend, while Roger Espinoza and Graham Zusi can surpass Preki for the third-most games played in the playoff history of this club, with all three currently tied at 20.

Houston Dynamo possible starting lineup:
Clark; Dorsey, Sviatchenko, Micael, Escobar; Artur, Herrera; Carrasquilla, Bassi, Franco; Baird

Sporting Kansas City possible starting lineup:
Melia; Davis, Rosero, Fontas, Ndenbe; Walter, Espinoza, Kinda; Russell, Pulido, Salloi

SM words green background

We say: Houston Dynamo 1-1 Sporting Kansas City (Sporting Kansas City advances on penalties)

Both teams exceeded expectations in the regular season, and they each have a solid midfield shape and match-winners that can make the difference up front.

If the match is as close as we anticipate, it could come down to penalties, giving the visitors the edge as Tim Melia has won all seven shootouts that he has been a part of in his professional career.

How to watch

You can watch Houston Dynamo vs. Sporting Kansas City and every MLS match this season live on Apple TV. Click here for more details on how to subscribe.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at are predicting over 2.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Over 2.5:data

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