Graham Zusi joined Glenn Davis on Dynamo All-Access ahead of Sporting KC's trip to Houston for tonight's showdown between the Eastern Conference contenders. Hit play below to hear from the reigning MLS Player of the Week for his thoughts on renewing the rivalry...
Speaking of Zusi and the radio, MLSSoccer.com talked musical tastes and compiled a Spotify playlist with some of the National Teamer's favorites.
Need more noise? Jake Yadrich, color commentator for the Sporting KC Television Network, joined T.J. Carpenter on Sports Radio 810 WHB for a SportsNight segment on Thursday. Listen to the full interview online at 810whb.com.
Sports Radio 810 WHB will simulcast tonight's match with The Final Whistle: Sporting KC Postgame Show immediately afterward. Call 913-3-810-810 to join the discussion with hosts Dave Borchardt and Andy Edwards.
What has been the main reasons for the increased rivalry between the two sides?
"Success. Two managers that have an intense desire to win and compete. Familiarity now and past history. All of these things come into play. Of course they've competed in conference championships and playoffs. I clearly believe that this is the Dynamo's number one rivalry."
What sort of match do you expect to see on Sunday?
"That's the thing I like about Sporting Kansas City on the road. They go after teams and quite frankly most of the teams that have come into BBVA Compass Stadium have tried to open up and play against the Dynamo. Vancouver did, Colorado did to a degree, San Jose did to their detriment. I think people realize that you can't come into BBVA Compass Stadium and think you're going to sit back for an entire course of a game and let them come at you and pressure you and get out with a result. That's going to be a rare, rare luxury if it ever happens even at all this year."
"I think it's going to be an open and entertaining game."
"I think fatigue could play a part in this match. It seemed to be a highly emotional game for Sporting Kansas City against Seattle. You have to wonder if that maybe slows the pace down on a game that might have normally been a lot faster and give people a little bit more time on the ball."
What match-ups will be important for Sunday's match?
"I think there's great match-ups all over the place. It's kind of like take your pick because of quality of the players and the way the two teams play. For me, how do the Dynamo adjust to the Sporting Kansas City midfield. Who controls the middle third of the field. There's a lot of strength there with the players. And of course you got a lot of energy out wide on both teams as well."
"This could be an incredible midfield match-up here on Sunday. I think two of the best midfields in MLS are going head to head on Sunday."
What's been the key to the Dynamo's long home unbeaten streak?
"I really think it down to a few factors. One, I think they just have a lot of confidence there (at BBVA Compass Stadium). There's something to be said about having momentum and having a thought process that you're not going to lose in a certain place."
"Weather here plays a very big factor for teams who are coming from the North, even the Midwest in Kansas City. The humidity, even in those months when it's not 'hot', is still something after 60-70 minutes. It's very very tough to deal with and there's no coincidence that the Dynamo get a lot of their results (at home) with goals after the 70th minute. They're conditiioned to deal with heat. They're conditioned to deal with the humidity."
What are the expectations for the Dynamo this season?
"Supporters Shield talk doesn't really come up here much. They really do focus on the MLS Cup. Honestly, I think its weird because they've been to MLS Cup the last two years but there is a sense that this is probably their best team (in the last three seasons). Of the three years, on paper, this is the best team they've had. I really do think that for Dominic Kinnear and that group, the goal really is to win MLS Cup."
What do you expect to see from Sunday's match?
"I expect to see what we've seen the last six or seven times between these two sides, an all-out battle."
"I think personally it's going to be a game that a lot of soccer fans want to watch. It's two teams that go hard. They don't lay on the ground. They don't dive. It is really two honest teams going at it."
"I think this is going to be Houston's biggest challenge. I think Sporting Kansas City are Houston's biggest threat to end the streak (home unbeaten streak). I really do because the style of play and the condensed schedule this week. I expect to see a battle and an honest to goodness fight this weekend."
Roger Espinoza made history on Saturday afternoon as the first player ever to win the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and English FA Cup in consecutive years. The former Sporting KC midfielder started and played 90 minutes for Wigan today in their 1-0 win over Manchester City in the FA Cup final. The victory comes only months after Espinoza was a part of the Sporting KC squad that defeated Seattle on August 8, 2012 to lift the U.S. Open Cup trophy.
Full video highlights of the FA Cup final are available below.
Sporting Kansas City will travel to play Eastern Conference rivals Houston on Sunday evening. It's a match-up featuring two of the top teams in MLS and both are favorites to finish near the top of the Eastern Conference standings.
Houston will be playing their third match in eight days (same as Sporting KC) so they are unlikely to be at full strength. Calen Carr and Omar Cummings are both unavailable due to injuries whlie several others are listed as questionable. The most notable are Giles Barnes, one of Houston's most dangerous attacking players, and Ricardo Clark, a strong defensive presence in midfield.
Formation & Style of Play
The Dynamo line up in a 4-4-2. Houston, especially at home, will look for their outside backs to make overlapping runs to stretch the defense and create space in the 18 yard box. Houston are a team that will look to punish teams with a combination of skill, physicality, and set pieces. Brad Davis provides consistent service on free kicks and corners while Boniek Garcia and Andrew Driver are dangerous on the flanks.
Up top, Will Bruin is a target forward and Giles Barnes is a skillful finisher with some pace. Another player to watch is Adam Moffat, who fans will remember for his long-range goal in the first leg of the 2012 Eastern Conference semifinals. Overall, Houston are a team that aren't afraid to be physical (have committed more fouls than suffered this season) and can score a variety of ways. They are a team that will frequently win matches despite losing the possession battle (had 48% and 40% in last two victories).
Brad Davis - An experienced midfielder who arguably has the best left foot in MLS.
Boniek Garcia - The Honduran signed with the team last summer and has strengthened one of the league's best midfields.
Will Bruin - A talented and physical forward who is coming off a two goal and two assist performance against D.C. United
|at LA Galaxy (May 5th)||at D.C. United (May 8th)|
Sporting Kansas City will face the Houston Dynamo for the 16th time in MLS (regular season) on Sunday evening. This is the first of three regular season meetings between the two sides in 2013.
All-Time Head To Head
Home Matches: 2-3-3 (10 goals scored, 9 goals conceded)
Away Matches: 1-3-3 (7 goals scored, 12 goals conceded)
|Sporting KC||Stat||Houston Dynamo|
|Claudio Bieler 6||GOALS||Barnes/Bruin 4|
|Graham Zusi 4||ASSISTS||Davis/Bruin/Sarkodie 3|
|Claudio Bieler 29||SHOTS||Giles Barnes 29|
|Aurelien Collin 23||FOULS||Bobby Boswell 13|
|Jimmy Nielsen 19||SAVES||Tally Hall 23|
|Jimmy Nielsen 0.82||GAA||Tally Hally 0.90|
|Sporting KC||Houston Dynamo|
|Shots (on goal)||157 (46)||123 (45)|
|Fouls Committed (Suffered)||161 (162)||114 (96)|
|Duels Won (Avg)||51.2%||50.0%|
|Completed Passes (Avg)||438||386|
|Passing Accuracy (Avg)||77.4%||73.5%|
Last 10 MLS Regular Season Meetings
|07/18/2012||2-1||L||BBVA Compass Stadium|
On Saturday, Roger Espinoza will be aiming for his second cup in consecutive seasons. Espinoza was a part of the 2012 Sporting Kansas City side that won the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and is currently playing for Wigan, who faces Manchester City in the FA Cup final tomorrow (watch live on FOX at 11am CT). He scored his first EPL goal for Wigan on Tuesday and the GIF below shows that wasn't the first time he's used his left foot to beat a keeper near post. You've been warned, Joe Hart.
Kei's back in Kansas City and MLSSoccer.com has featured the striker in their latest "Top 5" series. Check out the video below to view some of Kamara's best moments in a Kansas City jersey including a couple penalty kicks in the U.S. Open Cup final, his two-goal performance against Toronto, and his St. Patrick's Day celebration with C.J. Sapong.
Sporting Park had a few special guests on Wednesday night. Players from the Kansas City Chiefs showed up ready to enjoy the evening and cheer on their fellow Kansas City athletes.
From corner back Brandon Flowers to safety Eric Berry, several Kansas City Chiefs were among the stadium’s sold out crowd.
“It’s fun, it’s a lot of fun,” Chiefs’ safety Tysyn Hartman said of his first game in Sporting Park. “I’m enjoying it so far and learning a lot. I’ve been playing a lot of FIFA video games and started watching it on TV, so I’ve been learning more and more. It’s nice to come here and see it in person.”
Though considerably smaller in size than Arrowhead Stadium, the Chiefs thought the Sporting Park atmosphere was impressive and they had an extra special appreciation for the Cauldron.
“This is a great stadium,” defensive tackle Anthony Toribio said. “The fans are awesome, and, what do you call that? The ‘Blue Hell?’ Those fans are awesome. I want to be a part of that, seriously. It’s a really nice venue, good atmosphere, great night – I love it.”
The first time Toribio saw Sporting KC play was Sunday afternoon when Sporting defeated Chivas USA 4-0.
“Last Sunday was my first game here,” Toribio said, “and I said, ‘I have to come back.’ it’s pretty sweet.”
When it comes to favorite players, there were a few guys on Sporting KC’s squad that really stood out to these football pros.
“I’ve been told Zusi is the man, so I’ve been trying to watch him as much as I can,” Hartman said, “but number 3, Ike Opara, I’ve been watching him and he’s been playing really well.”
Defensive back Jalil Brown said he’s been to quite a few Sporting KC games, and when it comes to choosing a favorite player, picking just one isn’t easy.
“They’re all pretty exciting to watch,” Brown said. “C.J. (Sapong) is pretty cool, I’ve seen him play a couple of times, but I’d say all of them, as a whole, they’re a great team.”
After two good experiences at Sporting Park, Toribio said he’s officially become a fan of MLS.
“I don’t know a lot about Sporting KC since I follow the EPL a lot, Liverpool is my favorite team,” Toribio explained as he pointed down to the Liverpool jersey he was proudly wearing. “So I’m just now starting to get into MLS. It’s pretty exciting, and these guys are really good.”
In honor of Houston's 30 match unbeaten streak in MLS, let's take a look back to 2006. On April 8th at Robertson Stadium, Kansas City handed the Dynamo their first ever home loss behind goals from Sasha Victorine and Jose Burciaga, Jr. Houston took a 1-0 lead in that match before KC rallied with goals in the 66th minute and 90th minute. Enjoy this week's Throwback Thursday featuring Burciaga, right after he scored the game-winning goal in Houston.
Sporting Kansas City Manager Peter Vermes joined The Border Patrol with Nate Bukaty and Steven St. John this morning on Sports Radio 810 WHB to discuss last night's match against the Seattle Sounders FC and the team's trip to Houston for Sunday's showdown with the Dynamo.
"With three games in eight days, we've got to get focused on Houston. But it was a tough one to swallow based on the fact that we gifted them the goal at the end there. A major blunder on our part defensively and it wasn't just from the throw-in. It was the play leading up to it, giving the ball away as we were attacking up the field -- just a big mistake on our part."
Given the quick turnaround, Vermes will put the team through training sessions on Friday and Saturday at the Sporting Club Training Center to prep for the trip to BBVA Compass Stadium.
"They're undefeated there -- it's not an easy place to play -- since they opened the place...They're actually on a bit of a roll at the moment. They're feeling it. They're a very confident team. So where it's going to be important for us, I truly believe that second balls in the game are going to be a big thing. They like to pump some balls forward and they like to win those second balls close to your box. And that's where they put you under pressure. The other is that they have two guys wide that have some good speed that are good in the counter. We're going to have to be alert to those two players."
Hear much more from Vermes -- including his thoughts on Graham Zusi's versatility, Matt Besler's injury and the Chiefs' Andy Reid -- in the full interview on 810whb.com.