By The Numbers: Sporting KC at Houston Dynamo FC | Feb. 24, 2024

"By The Numbers" presented by Compass Minerals is a season-long series that gives a statistical preview of every Sporting match. To visit the series archive, click here.

With a short offseason in the rearview mirror, Sporting Kansas City will kick off the 2024 season Saturday against Houston Dynamo FC at Shell Energy Stadium. The rematch of last year's Western Conference Semifinals is slated for 7:30 p.m. CT, streaming live on Apple TV for MLS Season Pass subscribers and airing locally on ESPN 94.5 FM and La Grande 1340 AM.

Sporting and Houston were two of the Western Conference's best teams during the latter half of 2023 and will look to carry their momentum into the new campaign, treating supporters to a compelling Week 1 matchup with springtime weather forecasted in South Texas. As excitement builds for this can't-miss curtain raiser, we take a statistical look at the fixture in our latest edition of By The Numbers presented by Compass Minerals.


  • Sporting and Houston last met in the Western Conference Semifinals of the 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs on Nov. 26, 2023. Houston claimed a 1-0 home win behind Franco Escobar’s first-half goal.
  • Sporting are 4-0-2 in their last six regular season meetings against Houston. The Dynamo claimed their last regular season win in the series on May 12, 2021, prevailing 1-0 at home.
  • Sporting are 9-3-3 in their last 15 regular season meetings against Houston dating back to 2018.
  • Sporting are 5-2-2 in their last nine meetings against Houston across all competitions, with the lone losses coming away from home in the 2023 U.S. Open Cup and 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs.
  • Sporting and Houston last met in the regular season on Sept. 23, 2023, at Children’s Mercy Park. Sporting prevailed 2-1 with first-half goals from Johnny Russell and Willy Agada. Teenage Hadebe scored a first-half goal for Houston.
  • Sporting have faced Houston 46 times in all competitions since 2011, more than any other opponent during that time (19-15-12 record).
  • The all-time regular season series is closely contested with Sporting holding a 14-13-15 record through 42 meetings, scoring 58 goals and conceding 57.
  • Sporting and Houston have met in six previous editions of the MLS Cup Playoffs, more than any other MLS opponent for both clubs. Houston prevailed in five of the six meetings.
    • 2007 Conference Final (Houston won 2-0 at home)
    • 2011 Conference Final (Houston won 2-0 away)
    • 2012 Conference Semifinals (Houston won 2-1 on aggregate)
    • 2013 Conference Semifinals (Sporting won 2-1 on aggregate)
    • 2017 Knockout Round (Houston won 1-0 at home)
    • 2023 Conference Semifinals (Houston won 1-0 at home)
  • In addition to meeting five times in the MLS Cup Playoffs since 2007, Sporting and Houston have met in six of the last seven Open Cup tournaments since 2015. In four of the previous six Open Cup meetings, the winner went on to hoist the Open Cup title (Sporting in 2015 and 2017, Houston in 2018 and 2023).
  • Sporting forward Alan Pulido has six goals and one assist in seven regular season appearances against Houston since 2020. His six goals against Houston are his most versus any MLS opponent.
  • Sporting forward Johnny Russell has eight goals and three assists in 16 appearances against Houston in all competitions since 2018.
  • Only four people have played or coached in 600 combined MLS matches in league history: Sporting manager Peter Vermes (708) and Houston head coach Ben Olsen (628), who will go head-to-head on Saturday, as well as Jason Kreis (662) and Gregg Vanney (626).

Sporting Kansas City

  • 2023 MLS regular season record: 12-14-8, 44 points (8th in West | 48 GF, 51 GA)
  • 2023 MLS regular season away record: 3-8-6 (18 GF, 30 GA)
  • Sporting’s 15 season-opening wins and 10 wins in road openers are both most all-time in MLS history. Sporting are 15-9-4 in MLS season openers and 10-14-4 in road openers.
  • Sporting reached the conference semifinals last year for the fourth time since 2018, tied for the most in MLS over the last six seasons (New York City FC, Philadelphia Union, Seattle Sounders FC).
  • From the start of May to the end of the 2023 regular season, Sporting led the Western Conference in points (41), wins (12) and goals per game (1.88) while ranking second in goal differential (+10). Sporting’s seven losses during that time were also tied for the fewest in the conference.
  • In 2023, Sporting won six of the club’s final nine regular season matches for just the third time in club history, equaling a feat first accomplished in 2013 and 2020 (when the team won six of its last eight each year).
  • Sporting won three of their last five MLS away matches in 2023 (including playoffs) after winning just three of their previous 32 MLS road games from Oct. 31, 2021 to Sept. 9, 2023.
  • From April 22, 2023, until the end of last season, Sporting went 9-0-2 in matches immediately following losses across all competitions.
  • With a 2-0 series sweep of St. Louis City SC in Round One of the 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs, Sporting became the second No. 8 seed to defeat a No. 1 seed in MLS postseason history after New England beat Philadelphia in 2020.
  • Goalkeeper Tim Melia is 10-3-1 in his last 14 regular season starts since May 13, 2023.
  • Forward Daniel Salloi led Sporting last season with 22 goal contributions in all competitions (10 goals 12 assists). Salloi is entering his first year as an MLS Designated Player and his first season wearing the No. 10 jersey.
  • Forward Alan Pulido was second on the team last season with 21 goal contributions in all competitions (15 goals, six assists).
  • Forward Johnny Russell is one of three MLS players (Lucho Acosta, Gyasi Zardes) to score six goals every regular season since 2018.
  • Midfielder Erik Thommy led Sporting last season with 13 assists in all competitions and ranked third on the team with 18 total goal contributions. He became the fifth player in club history to hit 11 assists in a single regular season alongside Preki (six times), Matt McKeon (11 in 2000), Graham Zusi (15 in 2012) and Benny Feilhaber (15 in 2015, 13 in 2016).
  • Defender Jake Davis started in each of Sporting’s final 27 matches last season in all competitions. In all competitions last year, Sporting were 16-9-7 when Davis started and 0-8-3 when he did not.
  • Defender Dany Rosero accounted for three of Sporting’s six headed goals last season in all competitions, each coming off a set piece.

Houston Dynamo FC

  • 2023 MLS regular season record: 14-11-9, 51 points (4th in West | 51 GF, 38 GA)
  • 2023 MLS regular season home record: 11-2-4 (36 GF, 11 GA)
  • Houston is 10-1-7 in 18 regular season home openers since joining MLS in 2006. The Dynamo are unbeaten in their last 12 home openers since 2012 (8-0-4 record).
  • A successful 2023 campaign saw Houston win the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and reach the Western Conference Finals after missing the playoffs in five straight seasons from 2018-2022. Houston has reached the conference finals in eight of the club’s nine playoff appearances since 2006.
  • Houston ended last season with two losses in its final 17 matches across all competitions: a 2-1 defeat at Sporting on Sept. 23 and a 2-0 playoff loss at LAFC on Dec. 2. The team never trailed in the 15 matches it did not lose during that stretch.
  • Houston ended the 2023 regular season with a 6-1-4 record and 2.0 points per game, tied with Sporting for the highest points-per-game clip in the Western Conference following Leagues Cup 2023.
  • Houston was 18-3-5 at home last season in all competitions, scoring 51 goals (1.96 per match) and conceding 18 (0.69 per match) with 13 shutouts in 26 games.
  • Houston conceded 11 goals in 17 regular season home matches last season, their fewest in club history (11-2-4 record).
  • During the 2023 regular season, Houston led MLS with 14 goals in the first 15 minutes of matches. The Dynamo outscored opponents 14-6 during this interval.
  • During the 2023 regular season, Houston led MLS with a 13-0-3 record when scoring first. In all competitions last year, the Dynamo went 21-1-7 when scoring first. The lone loss was a 2-1 home defeat to Charlotte FC in the Leagues Cup Round of 16.
  • Houston went 1-12-2 when conceding the first goal last season in all competitions.
  • During the 2023 regular season, Houston had a 10-0-2 record when leading at halftime and a 0-6-0 record when trailing at halftime. In all competitions last season, the Dynamo were 18-1-6 when leading at halftime and 0-7-0 when trailing at halftime.
  • Goalkeeper Steve Clark ranked second in MLS during the 2023 regular season with 12 shutouts.
  • Midfielder Hector Herrera finished second in MLS during the 2023 regular season with 17 assists while leading the team with 21 total goal contributions (four goals).
  • Midfielder Amine Bassi led Houston with 15 goals last season in all competitions, including nine penalty kick goals and one goal immediately off a saved penalty kick rebound.
  • Defender Franco Escobar finished the 2023 regular season with 11 yellow cards, second most in MLS.

Milestones and Miscellany

  • Manager Peter Vermes is one shy of his 500th MLS match as Sporting’s head coach (including MLS Cup Playoffs and MLS is Back Tournament).
  • Forward Johnny Russell has 56 regular season goals for Sporting, one shy of tying Dom Dwyer for second most in club history.
  • Forward Daniel Salloi has 77 goal contributions (45 goals, 32 assists) in the regular season, one shy of tying Davy Arnaud for fifth most in club history.
  • Forward Willy Agada is one shy of his 50th goal at the professional club level.
  • Midfielder Erik Thommy has appeared in 50 straight MLS matches for Sporting (including playoffs) since making his league debut on July 23, 2022.
  • The following newcomers are in contention to make their competitive debuts for Sporting: defender Zorhan Bassong, midfielder Memo Rodriguez, goalkeeper Ryan Schewe and forward Alenis Vargas. Schewe and Vargas have yet to make their MLS debuts, with Schewe also awaiting his professional debut as a 2024 SuperDraft selection out of Georgetown University.