Sporting Kansas City vs. Houston Dynamo FC
2021 MLS Regular Season | Match 28
Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021 | 3 p.m. CT
Children's Mercy Park | Kansas City, Kansas
English TV | Bally Sports Kansas City Plus, Bally Sports Midwest Plus
Spanish TV | UniMas, TUDN
Streaming | BallySports.com, Bally Sports App, @TUDNUSA on Twitter
English Radio | ESPN 94.5 FM
Spanish Radio | La Grande 1340 AM
The race for first place in the Western Conference will intensify Sunday when Sporting Kansas City (14-6-7, 49 points) hosts rivals Houston Dynamo FC (5-11-12, 27 points) at world-class Children's Mercy Park. The pivotal matchup will kick off at 3 p.m. CT sharp and tickets are available at SeatGeek.com as Sporting looks to vault atop the West with a victory ahead of the FIFA international break in October.
Sunday's contest, presented by UMKC, will be shown live regionally on Bally Sports Kansas City Plus, Bally Sports Midwest Plus, BallySports.com and the Bally Sports app with three hours of live coverage beginning at 2:30 p.m. CT. The match will also air nationally in Spanish on UniMas and TUDN while streaming in English via @TUDNUSA on Twitter. Listeners can catch the action locally on ESPN 94.5 FM (English) and La Grande 1340 AM (Spanish), and the Sporting KC mobile app will provide additional in-game updates plus exclusive offers and content.
The mid-afternoon showdown against Houston will begin six hours before Western Conference leaders Seattle Sounders FC host the third-place Colorado Rapids, who sit a single point behind Sporting in the standings. The team that finishes in first when Decision Day brings the regular season to a dramatic close on Nov. 7 will receive a first-round bye in the Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs and advance directly to the conference semifinals in late November.
Sporting kept within two points of Seattle on Wednesday by claiming a 3-1 road win over FC Dallas. Academy product Daniel Salloi strengthened his league MVP bid with two outstanding goals on either side of halftime and is now one shy of tying the MLS record for most non-penalty goals in a regular season by a Homegrown Player. The 25-year-old Hungarian international leads MLS with 15 non-penalty goals this year and his 21 total goal contributions (including six assists) are one behind co-leaders Ola Kamara of D.C. United and Hany Mukhtar of Nashville SC.
Captain and fellow forward Johnny Russell also etched his name onto the scoresheet in the midweek triumph, bagging a penalty kick to mark his fourth consecutive game with a goal. The 31-year-old Scottish committed his long-term future to the club by re-signing for Sporting on Thursday and would become the second player in team history alongside Preki to score in five straight regular season matches if he finds the back of the net this weekend.
Under the guidance of head coach Tab Ramos, who played alongside Sporting Manager Vermes on the U.S. Men's National Team and at the club level in the 1990s, Houston enters the weekend languishing at 12th place in the West. The Dynamo are 10 points below the playoff line and remain the only MLS team without a road win in 2021, going 0-8-6 on their travels, but have rebounded in recent weeks with two wins and two ties in their last five games. Diminutive winger Fafa Picault has notched four of his team-leading 10 goals during the stretch, which included comprehensive road wins over Texas rivals Austin FC and FC Dallas on Sept. 11 and 18, respectively.
Sporting and Houston most recently met on May 29 when Vermes' men posted a wild 3-2 win in the first game back at full capacity at Children's Mercy Park. Striker Alan Pulido and midfielder Gadi Kinda were among the goal scorers for Sporting—who also received a world-class free kick from now-departed Academy product and U.S. international midfielder Gianluca Busio—while Houston struck through Matias Vera and talented attacker Maxi Urruti. The Dynamo won the first meeting between the clubs this season by a 1-0 scoreline on May 9 at BBVA Stadium, taking all three points on a 56th-minute goal from Urruti.
Sporting have faced Houston 38 times in all competitions since 2011, more than any other opponent over the last decade. During that time, the clubs have notably met in four editions of the MLS Cup Playoffs (2011, 2012, 2013, 2017) and five editions of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup (2011, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018). Vermes' side owns a 6-3-2 record in the last 11 regular season meetings dating back to October 2017.
Sporting's narrow victory over Houston in late May was one of five come-from-behind wins and one of eight three-goal performances for the club this season, both tied for the most in team history. The club's success has stemmed from a free-scoring attack that leads the West with 47 goals—Sporting are a perfect 14-0-0 this season when scoring at least twice—as well as an improving backline that has seen goalkeeper Tim Melia post a 12-4-6 record and a .682 winning percentage, the best by a Kansas City keeper in an MLS season since the dawn of the non-shootout era in 2000.
On the opposite sideline, Houston have been fast starters throughout the year—their eight goals in the first 15 minutes of matches are second-most in the league—but their four goals after the 60th minute rank worst in MLS. During a year that has tended to disappoint more often than not, veteran Tim Parker has provided a defensive bright spot by playing every minute for Houston and leading MLS in minutes (2,520), games played (28) and starts (28).
If Sporting collects three points on Sunday, Vermes would move into a tie for fourth place on Major League Soccer’s all-time chart with 170 regular season coaching wins. Only Bruce Arena of the New England Revolution, Bob Bradley of LAFC, Dominic Kinnear and the late Sigi Schmid have more regular season wins as an MLS head coach than Vermes, who in his 13th season at the helm is the longest tenured manager at one club in league history.