Match Preview

Preview: Sporting KC set for Sunday showdown with Houston Dynamo in Western Conference Semifinals

Sporting Kansas City at Houston Dynamo FC
Audi 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs
Western Conference Semifinals
Sunday, Nov. 26 | 6 p.m. CT (6:09 kickoff)
Shell Energy Stadium | Houston, Texas

Broadcast Schedule:
Cable TV | FS1 and FOX Deportes
Apple TV | MLS Season Pass
English Radio | ESPN 94.5 FM & 1510 AM
Spanish Radio | La Grande 1340 AM
Satellite Radio | SiriusXM FC

Sporting Kansas City's road to MLS Cup resumes on Sunday with the Audi 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs Western Conference Semifinals as the team travels to Texas to take on Houston Dynamo FC with the winner advancing to the Western Conference Final.

The single-elimination match between No. 8 seed Sporting KC and No. 4 seed Houston Dynamo FC will kick off at 6:09 p.m. CT on Sunday at Shell Energy Stadium and will stream in English and Spanish on Apple TV for MLS Season Pass subscribers. Live coverage will also air on FS1, FOX Deportes, ESPN Kansas City 94.5 FM and 1510 AM, La Grande 1340 AM and SiriusXM FC.

In the MLS Cup Playoffs for an 11th time since 2011 and 20th postseason overall in club history, Sporting KC will make its fourth conference semifinal appearance since 2018 – tied for most in MLS over the last six seasons. Houston, on the other hand, have missed the playoffs each of the past five seasons however the Dynamo have reached the Conference Finals in seven of the club's previous eight playoff appearances.

Sporting Kansas City swept No. 1 seed St. Louis CITY SC in a Round One Best-of-3 series – producing the only upset thus far in the Audi 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs – after first prevailing in a penalty shootout against No. 9 seed San Jose Earthquakes in the Western Conference Wild Card game.

Houston reached the Western Conference Semifinals by advancing past No. 5 seed Real Salt Lake in a Round One Best-of-3 series that went the full three games. Houston won Game 1 with a 2-1 victory at home before falling in penalties after a 1-1 draw in Game 2 on the road. Houston returned home for Game 3 and sealed the series in a shootout after another 1-1 stalemate in regulation.

Sporting Kansas City has faced Houston more times in the postseason, and more times in all competition (45) during the Sporting era (2011-present), than any other opponent. Houston prevailed in four of the previous five playoff match-ups, including the most recent postseason encounter in 2017, however Sporting Kansas City defeated the Dynamo in the club’s memorable run to the 2013 MLS Cup championship.

HOUvSKC in MLS Cup Playoffs
2007 Conference Final (HOU 2, SKC 0)
2011 Conference Final (HOU 2, SKC 0)
2012 Conference Semifinals (HOU 2, SKC 1)^
2013 Conference Semifinals (SKC 2, HOU 1)^
2017 Knockout Round (HOU 1, SKC 0)
2023 Conference Semifinals

^Aggregate score in home-and-away series

This season, the sides have played three times across all competitions. Houston earned a 1-0 home win on May 10 in the U.S. Open Cup en route to lifting the club’s second Dewar Challenge Trophy. In MLS play, Sporting earned a 2-2 draw in Houston on July 8 behind an Alan Pulido brace and handed Houston their only loss - and their only deficit -- since Leagues Cup with a 2-1 win on September 23 at Children’s Mercy Park.

Both teams own a pair of MLS Cup championships and each has excelled over the past three months with Houston (22 points, 2.00 points per game) and KC (18 points, 2.00 points per game) accumulating the most points and points per game of any teams in the Western Conference since the regular season resumed after Leagues Cup.

Houston is led by first-year head coach Ben Olsen – one of four individuals to have played and/or coached in 600 matches in MLS history along with Sporting KC Manager Peter Vermes – with support from assistant coach Aurelien Collin, who won the U.S. Open Cup and MLS Cup during a memorable four-year stint with Sporting KC from 2011-2014.

MLS Matches
As Player
As Coach
Peter Vermes
Jason Kreis
Ben Olsen
Greg Vanney

The match-up features the only two teams in the Western Conference with a trio of players to have recorded 15 or more goal contributions in MLS play this season. Club captain and MLS All-Star Hector Herrera (five goals, 18 assists), alongside newcomer Amine Bassi (12 goals, four assists) and former MLS Rookie of the Year Corey Baird (nine goals, six assists), lead the Houston attack, while Pulido (14 goals, six assists), Daniel Salloi (nine goals, 11 assists) and Erik Thommy (five goals, 11 assists) spearhead a Sporting KC offense that has scored the most goals in the West since the start of May.

Pulido, recently named MLS Comeback Player of the Year after missing all of last season due to injury, has six goals - his most against any MLS opponent - and one assist in seven career appearances against Houston. Salloi, the club's all-time leading scorer in the month of November and this year's co-leader in goal contributions during the postseason, ranks second in club history in playoff goals and playoff assists.

Sporting Kansas City will be up against a Houston side that is unbeaten in the team's last nine home matches across all competitions and that conceded the fewest goals at home (11) of any team during the regular season. While Sporting KC have failed to score in all four of the club's previous road playoff matches in Houston, this year Sporting has found success in Sunday matches with a 4-0-1 record in all competitions and 15 goals scored for an average of three goals per game.

Fans are invited to enjoy all the HOUvSKC action at any of the club's pub partners in the Sporting Pub Network , including No Other Pub (1370 Grand Blvd.) in the Kansas City Power & Light District. No Other Pub's matchday specials will start at 4 p.m. on Sunday, highlighted by $4 Anheuser-Busch drafts, $5 wells and $10 chicken nachos, and attendees can enter to win playoff giveaways. Additionally, the first 50 shoppers at  SportingStudio on Saturday and Sunday will receive a free drink ticket to use at the watch party.