By The Numbers: Sporting KC at Houston Dynamo FC | Nov. 26, 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.

Well-rested following a smackdown of St. Louis in the first round of the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs, Sporting Kansas City will travel to face another rival on Sunday as Houston Dynamo FC awaits in the Western Conference semifinals. Kickoff at Shell Energy Stadium is slated for 6 p.m. CT with national television coverage on FS1 and FOX Deportes in addition to English and Spanish streams on MLS Season Pass via Apple TV and local radio broadcasts on ESPN 94.5 FM and La Grande 1340 AM.

Sunday's battle pits two teams that have caught fire since the end of the Leagues Cup break in mid-August. Sporting are 8-3-1 in their last dozen MLS matches, while the Dynamo have lost just once in their last 16 games across all competitions, a 2-1 setback at Children's Mercy Park on Sept. 23.

With a spot in the Western Conference finals up for grabs, we take a statistical look at the colossal matchup in our newest edition of By The Numbers, presented by Compass Minerals.


  • Sporting and Houston have met in five previous editions of the MLS Cup Playoffs, more than any other MLS opponent for both clubs. Houston prevailed in four of the five meetings, including the most recent playoff matchup between the clubs in the 2017 Western Conference Knockout Round.
    • 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
  • Sporting are 2-4-1 in seven playoff matches against Houston, scoring three goals and conceding eight.
  • Sporting have failed to score in all four road playoff matches at Houston, posting a 0-3-1 record with five goals conceded. Sporting’s lone away result against Houston in the playoffs was a 0-0 draw in the first leg of the 2013 Eastern Conference Finals.
  • 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, playing four of those six Open Cup matches at Shell Energy Stadium. 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 and Houston last met on Sept. 23 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 last visited Houston on July 8, playing to a 2-2 draw at Shell Energy Stadium. Alan Pulido scored a brace, giving Sporting the lead in both halves, but Houston responded equalized before halftime through Ibrahim Aliyu and deep into second-half stoppage time through Ivan Franco.
  • Sporting are 4-0-2 in their last six regular season meetings against Houston. The Dynamo claimed their last league win in the series on May 12, 2021, prevailing 1-0 at home.
  • Sporting are 5-1-2 in their last eight meetings against Houston across all competitions, with the lone loss coming on May 10 as Houston claimed a 1-0 home win in the U.S. Open Cup Round of 32.
  • Houston’s Open Cup win over Sporting on May 10 saw Thor Ulfarsson score the decisive goal in the 12th minute. The Dynamo held on for a 1-0 victory despite being outshot 17-2 and playing down a man for 55 minutes following Chase Gasper’s red card.
  • Sporting are 9-3-3 in their last 15 regular season meetings against Houston dating back to 2018.
  • Sporting have faced Houston 45 times in all competitions since 2011, more than any other opponent (19-14-12 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 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 15 appearances against Houston in all competitions since 2018.
  • Sporting midfielder Gadi Kinda has four goals and three assists in eight regular season appearances against Houston since 2020.
  • Houston forward Corey Baird has four goals and one assist in 12 regular season appearances against Sporting.
  • Houston midfielder Hector Herrera had two assists in the 2-2 draw between the clubs on July 8.
  • Only four people have played or coached in 600 MLS matches in league history: Sporting manager Peter Vermes (707) and Houston head coach Ben Olsen (626), who will go head-to-head on Sunday, as well as Jason Kreis (662) and Gregg Vanney (626).

Sporting KC Historical & Playoff Stats

  • Sporting are the only club to reach the U.S. Open Cup semifinals, MLS conference semifinals or Concacaf Champions League semifinals in each of the last seven seasons since 2017.
  • Sporting are tied for second in MLS history alongside FC Dallas and LA Galaxy with 20 playoff appearances, trailing only the New York Red Bulls (24).
  • Sporting are making their 11th playoff appearance since 2011, third most in MLS during that time behind only the New York Red Bulls (13) and Seattle Sounders FC (12).
  • Sporting have a 3-17-7 away record in the MLS Cup Playoffs, with wins coming in 1996 at Dallas (via shootout), 2011 at Colorado and 2023 at St. Louis.
  • Prior to the 4-1 win at St. Louis on Oct. 29, Sporting were winless in nine road playoff matches since 2012 with a 0-5-4 record. Each of the last four losses during that stretch came by a single goal.
  • Seven of Sporting’s last eight playoff matches have taken place at home since Nov. 29, 2018. Sporting are 2-3-2 during that home stretch, suffering season-ending playoff losses at Children’s Mercy Park in 2018, 2020 and 2021.
  • Sporting’s last road playoff loss was a 1-0 extra-time defeat to Houston Dynamo FC in the 2017 Western Conference Knockout Round.
  • By prevailing against Houston on Sunday, Sporting would reach the conference finals for the ninth time in club history (1996, 2000, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2011, 2013, 2018). Sporting’s eight conference final appearances are tied with Chicago, Columbus and New England for second most in MLS behind LA Galaxy’s 13.

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)
  • Round One Best-of-3 Series: Won 2-0 vs. St. Louis
  • Sporting have reached the conference semifinals 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).
  • With triumphs over the San Jose Earthquakes and St. Louis in this postseason, Sporting have advanced past two opponents in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs for the first time since winning MLS Cup in 2013 (when they beat New England Revolution, Houston Dynamo FC and Real Salt Lake).
  • With a 2-0 series sweep of St. Louis in Round One, Sporting have become the second No. 8 seed to defeat a No. 1 seed in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs after New England beat Philadelphia in 2020.
  • Sporting were the only lower-seeded team to win their Round One Best-of-3 series (and the only away team to win Game 1 in the series). The other seven participants in the conference semifinals were higher-seeded sides in Round One.
  • Sporting scored six goals in their two-game sweep of St. Louis, tied with LAFC for the most by any MLS team in its first two matches of Round One.
  • In a 4-1 road win over St. Louis on Oct. 29, Sporting tied a club record with four goals in a playoff match (W 4-1 vs. LA Galaxy in 2002, W 4-2 vs. Real Salt Lake in 2018). Sporting also set a club postseason record with six assists in the game.
  • Sporting’s four goals in their road win over St. Louis on Oct. 29 were tied for the second most by a visiting team in the history of the MLS Cup Playoffs. Prior to that game, Sporting had never scored more than two goals in a road playoff match.
  • Sporting are playing for their second straight road playoff win after securing just two road playoff wins in their first 27 MLS seasons from 1996-2002 (3-17-7 away record in playoffs with wins in 1996, 2011 and 2023).
  • Sporting have scored three or more goals in back-to-back MLS road matches for the sixth time in club history (1996, 2005, 2007, 2018, 2021, 2023). The team earned a 3-2 win at Real Salt Lake in its regular season road finale on Oct. 7 and a 4-1 win over St. Louis in Game 1 of Round One.
  • Sporting are unbeaten in five MLS matches, their longest run of the season and their longest since going seven unbeaten from Aug. 21 to Oct. 2, 2022.
  • Sporting are 8-3-1 in MLS matches since the end of the Leagues Cup break. Only Orlando City SC has more MLS wins since then (10).
  • Sporting are the first club in MLS history to make the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs after opening the regular season winless in their first 10 games (0-7-3 record).
  • Sporting are the first team in MLS history to make the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs despite collecting fewer than five points from their first 10 matches of a season (three points).
  • 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.
  • Sporting are 4-0-1 when playing on Sundays this season, scoring 15 goals in those five matches.
  • Sporting have won eight of their last 11 penalty shootouts since June 30, 2009, a month before Peter Vermes began his managerial tenure at the club. Three of Sporting’s four major championships under his reign were secured in penalty shootout victories (2012 Open Cup, 2013 MLS Cup, 2015 Open Cup).
  • 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 have won three of their last four MLS away matches since Sept. 16 (including playoffs) after winning just three of their previous 32 MLS road games from Oct. 31, 2021 to Sept. 9, 2023.
  • Sporting have scored 34 first-half goals this season, second most in MLS (including playoffs).
  • Sporting have scored 63% of their MLS goals in the first half, the highest clip in the league (34 of 54 including playoffs). Three of their five goals in Leagues Cup also came in the first half.
  • Sporting have scored first in 18 of their last 25 matches across all competitions, posting an 11-2-5 record in those 18 games.
  • Sporting are 12-2-2 when leading at halftime and 0-8-0 when trailing at halftime during the 2023 MLS season (including playoffs).
  • Goalkeeper Tim Melia has won all seven penalty shootouts in his professional career, including a perfect 5-0 record with Sporting.
  • Melia is 10-3-1 in his last 14 MLS starts since May 13 after opening the year with a 0-4-1 record.
  • Since the start of his Sporting tenure in 2015, Melia’s 15 penalty kick saves in the regular season are most in MLS. He also has a 58.3% goals conceded percentage on penalty kicks (21 of 36) in the regular season, lowest in MLS regular season history among keepers with at least 20 penalties faced.
  • Forward Daniel Salloi tallied one goal and one assist in each of Sporting’s wins over St. Louis in Round One. His four total goal contributions in the Audi 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs are tied for most in the league. Salloi has recorded a goal and an assist in back-to-back MLS matches for the second time in his career after doing so in August 2021, the season he was an MLS MVP finalist.
  • Salloi ranks second in club history in playoff goals (five), playoff assists (four) and total goal contributions (nine) in the MLS Cup Playoffs.
  • Salloi leads Sporting with 22 goal contributions this season in all competitions (10 goals 12 assists).
  • Forward Alan Pulido had three assists in Sporting’s Round One series against St. Louis after totaling three assists during the entire 2023 regular season (28 appearances).
  • Pulido is second on the team with 21 goal contributions this season in all competitions (15 goals, six assists).
  • Pulido’s 14 goals in 2023 were the sixth most in a single regular season in club history. He has a team-best 15 goals in all competitions after missing all of 2022 through injury.
  • Pulido was named the 2023 MLS Comeback Player of the Year on Nov. 15, becoming the fifth player in club history to receive the honor.
  • Pulido is tied for second in MLS with 13 goals since the start of June. From June 3 to Sept. 9, he became the second player in Sporting history to score 12 goals in a span of 12 consecutive regular season matches (Johnny Russell in 2021).
  • Forward Johnny Russell has give goal contributions (four goals, one assist) in his last five MLS appearances since Oct. 7.
  • Midfielder Gadi Kinda tallied one goal and three assists in Sporting’s 2-0 sweep of St. Louis. His four total goal contributions in the Audi 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs are tied for most in the league.
  • In Sporting’s 4-1 road win over St. Louis on Oct. 29, Kinda became the first player in club history to have three goal contributions in an MLS playoff match (one goal, two assists).
  • Midfielder Erik Thommy leads Sporting with 13 assists in all competitions and ranks 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).
  • Sporting are a perfect 8-0-0 when Thommy scores in the regular season dating back to 2022. The club is also 10-1-3 in games he has scored or assisted a goal this season in all competitions.
  • Defender Jake Davis has started each of Sporting’s last 26 matches across all competitions, the longest active streak on the team.
  • Since breaking into the starting lineup on April 29, Davis ranks second among MLS defenders with 42 tackles won (including playoffs).
  • Sporting are 16-8-7 when Davis starts this season and 0-8-3 when he does not start (all competitions).
  • Defender Dany Rosero has accounted for three of Sporting’s six headed goals this 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)
  • Round One Best-of-3 Series: Won 2-1 vs. Real Salt Lake
  • Houston has reached the conference finals in seven of the club’s previous eight playoff appearances since 2006. Houston’s lone defeat at the conference semifinal stage was a 4-1 aggregate loss to the New York Red Bulls in 2008.
  • Houston missed the playoffs in five straight seasons from 2018-2022. Chicago Fire FC were the only other MLS club to miss the playoffs in each of those five seasons (also missed the postseason in 2023).
  • Since the end of Leagues Cup in mid-August, Houston has just one regulation loss in 16 matches across all competitions: a 2-1 defeat at Sporting on Sept. 23 at Children’s Mercy Park. This 16-game run includes 11 regular season matches, three playoff matches and two Open Cup matches.
  • Houston has a 9-1-6 record in its last 16 matches across all competitions since Aug. 20. The team has trailed in just one game during that stretch, for 83 minutes in a 2-1 loss at Sporting on Sept. 23.
  • Since the end of Leagues Cup, Houston leads MLS with a plus-19 goal differential (including playoffs). The team has scored 29 goals and conceded only 10 during that 14-game stretch (7-1-6 record).
  • Following Leagues Cup, Houston ended the regular season with a 6-1-4 record and 2.00 points per game, tied with Sporting for the highest points-per-game clip in the Western Conference.
  • Houston posted five straight MLS shutouts from July 15 to Sept. 2 but has just one clean sheet in its last 10 MLS matches since then.
  • Houston posted a 540-minute shutout streak in MLS play from July 15 to Sept. 16, the longest shutout streak in MLS this season.
  • Houston is 17-3-5 at home this season in all competitions, scoring 50 goals (2.0 per match) and conceding 18 (0.72) with 12 shutouts in 25 games.
  • During the 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 regular season, Houston led MLS with a 13-0-3 record when scoring first. In all competitions this season, the Dynamo are 20-1-7 when scoring first. The lone loss was a 2-1 home defeat to Charlotte FC in the Leagues Cup Round of 16.
  • Houston is 1-11-2 this year when conceding the first goal, both in the regular season and in all competitions. The Dynamo have neither conceded the first goal nor trailed at halftime in any of their 13 competitive matches outside of the MLS regular season.
  • During the 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 this season, the Dynamo are 17-1-6 when leading at halftime and 0-6-0 when trailing at halftime.
  • Houston has trailed at halftime in just six of 47 matches this season in all competitions.
  • Houston has won three of five penalty kick shootouts this season. Goalkeeper Steve Clark won three of the four shootouts he participated in, while Andrew Tarbell lost his only shootout.
  • Clark ranked second in MLS during the regular season with 12 shutouts.
  • Midfielder Hector Herrera finished second in MLS during the regular season with 17 assists while leading the team with 21 total goal contributions (four goals).
  • Attacking midfielder Amine Bassi leads Houston with 15 goals in all competitions, including nine penalty kick goals and one goal immediately off a saved penalty kick rebound.
  • Forward Corey Baird is one behind Bassi with 14 goals in all competitions. He has also appeared in a team-high 46 of the club’s 47 matches in all competitions this season.
  • Defender Franco Escobar finished the regular season with 11 yellow cards, second most in MLS.

Milestones and Miscellany

  • Midfielder Remi Walter is one shy of his 100th start for Sporting in all competitions.
  • Midfielder Erik Thommy is one shy of his 50th appearance for Sporting in MLS competitions.
  • Forward Willy Agada is one shy of his 50th goal at the professional club level.
  • Forward Daniel Salloi is fifth in club history with 95 goal contributions (58 goals, 37 assists) in all competitions, two shy of tying Chris Klein in fourth place.
  • Midfielder Roger Espinoza and defender Graham Zusi are tied with Preki for third in club history with 20 games played in the MLS Cup Playoffs, three behind leaders Kerry Zavagnin and Nick Garcia (23 each).