By the Numbers presented by KDOT

By The Numbers: Sporting KC at Houston Dynamo FC | May 10, 2023

"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.

On the heels of a cathartic 2-1 victory over first-place Seattle on Sunday, Sporting Kansas City will switch gears by traveling to face rivals Houston Dynamo FC in the 2023 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Round of 32 on Wednesday night. Kickoff at Shell Energy Stadium is set for 7:30 p.m. CT with live coverage on the U.S. Soccer YouTube channel, Sports Radio 810 WHB and La Grande 1340 AM.

Sporting are no strangers to success in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, having hoisted the trophy three times in the previous nine tournaments, nor are they unaccustomed to facing Houston in the storied tournament. Indeed, Sporting and Houston are on a collision course for a sixth Open Cup meeting since 2015 in what should be a fiercely competitive matchup with a Round of 16 spot on the line.

We take a statistical look at Wednesday's win-or-go-home battle in our newest edition of By the Numbers, presented by Compass Minerals.


  • Wednesday will mark the sixth time that Sporting and Houston have met over the last seven Open Cup tournaments (2015-2018 and 2022-2023, with no competition held from 2020-2021). In three of the previous five meetings, the winner went on to hoist the Open Cup title (Sporting in 2015 and 2017, Houston in 2018).
  • Wednesday will mark the fourth time that Sporting has visited Shell Energy Stadium over the last six Open Cup tournaments (Sporting won in 2017 and lost in 2016 and 2018).
  • The winner of Wednesday’s match will advance to the Open Cup Round of 16, which is scheduled for May 23-24.
  • Sporting are 4-0-1 in their last five meetings against Houston across all competitions, including a 2-1 home win in the 2022 U.S. Open Cup Round of 16 at Children’s Mercy Park.
  • Sporting are 8-3-2 in their last 13 regular season meetings against Houston dating back to 2018.
  • Sporting has faced Houston 42 times in all competitions since 2011, more than any other opponent, and posted an 18-13-11 record during that stretch.
  • The all-time regular season series is even through 40 meetings with both teams going 13-13-14 and scoring 54 goals apiece (1.35 per game).
  • Sporting forward Johnny Russell has seven goals and three assists in 13 appearances against Houston in all competitions since 2018.

Sporting Kansas City

  • 2023 MLS record: 1-7-3, 6 points (14th in West | 5 GF, 16 GA)
  • 2023 MLS away record: 1-4-2 (4 GF, 9 GA)
  • Best Open Cup Finish: Champions (2004, 2012, 2015, 2017)
  • On Wednesday, Sporting will continue a stretch of five matches in 14 days across all competitions, four of which are on the road and three of which are regular season away games against the top three teams in the Western Conference (first-place Seattle on May 7, sixth-place Houston on May 10, third-place LAFC on May 17 and second-place St. Louis City SC on May 20).
  • Sporting have won four Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup titles, tied with Chicago Fire FC and Seattle Sounders FC for the most among MLS clubs and one behind Maccabi Los Angeles and Bethlehem Steel for most in the tournament’s 108-year history.
  • Sporting have prevailed in 25 U.S. Open Cup matches since 2012, more than any other team, with three titles during that time (2012, 2015, 2017).
  • Sporting prevailed in the 2023 U.S. Open Cup third round by defeating Tulsa Athletic 3-0 with goals from Daniel Salloi, Alan Pulido and Marinos Tzionis.
  • Sunday’s 2-1 win at Seattle marked the first time that Sporting have scored multiple goals in a game since Sept. 17, 2022, ending a streak of 12 matches with one goal or fewer.
  • Sporting have scored three of their five regular season goals before the 12th minute and four of the five before the 32nd minute. The club has yet to score past the 50th minute this season.
  • Manager Peter Vermes has won three Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup titles, the most among active MLS head coaches, and boasts a 24-7-4 record in the competition dating back to 2010. He has prevailed in 27 of his 35 Open Cup matches at the helm of Sporting, including wins in three of four shootouts.
  • Goalkeeper Tim Melia owns an 8-1-2 record in the U.S. Open Cup as a member of Sporting. His two draws were shootout victories in the 2015 final at Philadelphia and the 2017 semifinals against San Jose. His lone loss in 11 Open Cup appearances for Sporting was the 2018 quarterfinals at Houston on July 18, 2018. Melia boasts a perfect 6-0 record in penalty shootouts in his professional career dating back to 2009.
  • Goalkeeper John Pulskamp has started in each of Sporting’s last five Open Cup matches since 2022, posting a 4-0-1 record with three shutouts, one saved penalty kick and a 0.60 goals against average.
  • Since the start of 2020, Sporting are 16-6-5 in the regular season when all three of the club’s Designated Players play in the same match (2.0 goals per game, 27 games). The team is 25-33-15 without at least one Designated Player during that time (1.3 goals per game, 73 games). Sporting’s DPs from 2018-2020 were Alan Pulido, Gadi Kinda and Johnny Russell. The club’s DP’s in 2023 are Pulido, Kind and Erik Thommy.
  • Midfielder Erik Thommy, who had a goal and a game-winning assist in Sunday’s 2-1 victory at Seattle, is tied for second in MLS with 15 shots on target. Sporting are 4-0-0 when Thommy scores in the regular season.
  • Forward Alan Pulido scored in Sunday’s 2-1 win at Seattle for his first MLS goal since Aug. 14, 2021, and now has 15 goals in 31 career regular season starts.
  • Forward Daniel Salloi ranks third in MLS in progressive carries (44, third in successful crosses from open play (11) and sixth in shots on target (14). He has scored or assisted on five of Sporting’s eight goals this season in all competitions.
  • Salloi is Sporting’s all-time Open Cup scoring leader with eight career goals in the tournament.
  • Midfielder Roger Espinoza is Sporting’s all-time leader in Open Cup appearances (25), starts (19) and minutes played (2,169).
  • Midfielder Remi Walter has started 53 consecutive regular season matches for Sporting since Sept. 29, 2021, the second-longest active streak among MLS field players behind Jakob Glesnes (83) and the fifth-longest streak in club history. Walter is the only Sporting player to play all 990 minutes this season and leads MLS field players with 106 recoveries.
  • Defender Graham Zusi ranks fifth in MLS with 119 passes into the final third.

Houston Dynamo FC

  • 2023 MLS record: 4-3-2, 14 points (6th in West | 10 GF, 8 GA)
  • 2023 MLS home record: 4-0-1 (7 GF, 0 GA)
  • Best Open Cu Finish: Champions (2018)
  • Houston advanced to the 2023 U.S. Open Cup Round of 32 with a 1-0 third-round win at USL Championship side Tampa Bay Rowdies on April 26, receiving a 44th-minute goal from 18-year-old midfielder Brooklyn Raines.
  • Houston won its first Open Cup in 2018, embarking on a title run that included a 4-2 quarterfinal home win over Sporting. It remains the only time that Houston has reached the Open Cup final.
  • Houston are 4-0-1 at home this season with shutouts in all five matches. The Dynamo have outscored opponents 7-0 in 450 minutes at Shell Energy Stadium.
  • Last month, Houston became the first team in MLS history to earn a shutout win in each of its first four home matches to start the season. The winning streak ended in a 0-0 draw against Real Salt Lake on Saturday.
  • Since losing their first two games of the season, Houston are 5-1-2 in their last eight matches across all competitions.
  • Houston’s eight goals conceded are tied for the second fewest in MLS behind only Nashville (six).
  • Houston are 4-0-1 this season when scoring first and 0-3-0 when conceding the first goal.
  • Houston rank 24th in MLS with 11.1 shots per game and have yet to score in the first 30 minutes of a match this season. The LA Galaxy and New York Red Bulls are the only other teams that have yet to score in the first half hour of a game.
  • Goalkeeper Steve Clark is tied for third in MLS with five shutouts, all at home, and ranks fourth with a 0.89 goals against average.
  • Clark and defender Ethan Bartlow have played every MLS minute for Houston this season, while midfielder Artur and forward Corey Baird are the other two players to start in all nine regular season matches.
  • Midfielder Amine Bassi leads Houston with five goals this season. Midfielder Hector Herrera (two goals) is the only other Houston player with more than one goal this season.

Milestones and Miscellany

  • Defender Andreu Fontas is one shy of his 100th appearance for Sporting in all competitions.