It's a must win for Sporting Kansas City as they host the Houston Dynamo in the Eastern Confere Semifinal second leg. The two teams met on Sunday with Houston getting a 2-0 victory. Below are some keys to the match.
Sporting KC have been very strong in the opening 15 minutes of matches and Wednesday will need to be the same. An early goal for SKC can put pressure on the Dynamo and create some momentum. It's not a necessity to score an early goal but at least generate good chances and put the Houston defense under pressure. While scoring a goal would be nice, it's also critical that Sporting KC don't concede a goal and dig themselves a deeper hole.
The injuries to Julio Cesar and Paulo Nagamura (both likely to be unavailable) means there will need to be a strong performance from the midfield. It's unclear who will start but Graham Zusi and Roger Espinoza will need to have soild performances. Along with the midfield, the outside backs (Chance Myers, Seth Sinovic) will need to make overlapping runs to stretch the defense and create space in middle for Espinoza and Zusi.
Set pieces are always key to any match but especially against a team with Brad Davis. The midfielder has arguably the best left foot in MLS and can provide service or score goals on set pieces. Sporting KC are expected to have most of the possession so set pieces could end up being Houston's best chances of the match. On the other end, Sporting should have multiple corner kicks and long throw-ins (for Matt Besler) that will provide decent chances.
One of the reasons Sporting KC has failed to turn in dominant performances at home into lopsided wins is not converting enough chances. Sporting will likely get plenty of possession and scoring chances but need to turn these into goals. SKC dominated large stretches against Houston two times this season at LSP but both times had to fight to get draws. If they are able to convert more of their chances, then overcoming a 2-0 deficit is definitely possible.