Sporting Kansas City vs. Houston Dynamo Prediction, Preview and Odds -5/29/21
Two teams near the top of the Western Conference table will square off on Saturday night when Sporting Kansas City hosts the Houston Dynamo at Children’s Mercy Park. Kansas City is currently in second place in the West at 4-1-2 after beating the San Jose Earthquakes last Saturday as a +160 road underdog. Houston took down the Vancouver Whitecaps by a score of 2-1 over the weekend to cash in as a -170 home favorite, and is just behind in the standings at 3-2-2.
These teams met recently on May 12, with Houston handing Kansas City a 1-0 loss at home.
Houston takes care of business at home against Whitecaps
After posting the worst record in the Western Conference a year ago, Houston looks much improved to start 2021 and is off to one of its best starts in several years following another win over Vancouver on Saturday. Memo Rodriguez got Houston off to a great start with a goal in the eighth minute while Maximiliano Urruti added another just before half, and Vancouver’s second-half push including a goal in the 80th wasn’t enough to get a result.
The Dynamo racked up 14 shots but only three of those wound up on net, and had 39% possession as they sat back in the second half after going up 2-0. Houston’s defense dominated for the most part at Vancouver managed 11 shots and two on net against Dynamo keeper Marko Maric.
Houston is averaging 1.29 goals on 11.28 shots per match so far, and is yet to be shut out in seven games this season. A much improved defense has been the key behind Houston’s turnaround, as opponents are putting up 1.29 goals and 13.28 shots per game against the Dynamo, with their only clean sheet coming in the first Kansas City matchup.
Urruti now leads the Dynamo with three goals, while Rodriguez has added two goals and one assist. Fafa Picault and Tyler Pasher have each contributed one goal and one assist for the Dynamo offense.
Pasher missed the previous three matches and was limited to 18 minutes last Saturday by a lower-body injury. No. 6 overall pick Ethan Bartlow has been unable to make his MLS debut due to a concussion.
Kansas City pulls away for second straight win
The Kansas City offense has been on a roll lately, and turned in another strong effort last Saturday in a 3-1 win over San Jose for the team’s third victory over the last four games. After San Jose took the lead just four minutes in, Jaylin Lindsey evened the score in the 15th before Kansas City went up in the 60th on a highlight-reel tally by Alan Pulido, with Daniel Salloi adding an insurance score 15 minutes later.
It was a fairly even game with San Jose holding a narrow 16-15 lead in shots and 58% possession, but seven of Kansas City’s efforts ended up on target compared to five for the Earthquakes. Playing in just his second game this season due to injury, goaltender Tim Melia held San Jose scoreless for the final 86 minutes while facing a fair amount of pressure.
Kansas City has enjoyed a potent offense in the early going with an average of 1.71 goals and 14.42 shots per game, and its only shutout came in the first meeting with Houston. Opponents are putting up 1.14 goals and 10.28 shots per match against Kansas City, which kept its lone clean sheet two weeks ago against the Whitecaps.
Pulido is now tied for third in MLS in goals with four while also adding one assist. Salloi is also having a strong campaign with three goals and two assists, while Gadi Kinda has found the back of the net twice.
Starting center back Nicolas Isimat-Mirin has been out since mid-April with a hamstring injury and remains questionable for this weekend. Striker Johnny Russell only played one minute last game as he deals with a groin injury. Starting defenseman Andreu Fontas, who played every minute of Kansas City’s first six matches, sat last weekend with an adductor injury and is questionable.
Side: Sporting Kansas City -1 (+110)
Total: Over 3 (-110)
Houston is exceeding preseason expectations and even managed to get a win in this matchup earlier in the season, but Kansas City is the better team and is starting to hit its stride recently. This will be the strongest test that Houston’s rebuilt defense has faced all year, as Kansas City has some of the best playmaking talents in MLS all performing at a high level over the past four games.
Advanced metrics indicate that Houston’s much improved defense might be a fluke, as the Dynamo have allowed 11.3 expected goals this season while facing a not particularly hard schedule. That same stat indicates Kansas City has one of the best offenses in MLS, and the combination of Pulido and Salloi are in better form than anyone in the league with the club pushing across six goals in the last two games.
The return of Melia in goal makes Kansas City a much more well-rounded team, and it carried the run of play against Houston in the last matchup even while being shut out. Kansas City will get revenge for that performance on Saturday, and has a great chance to win by multiple goals at home.
While Melia is back in net, Kansas City is still dealing with injuries on the backline and is only a solid but not great defense even when everybody is healthy. Keeping a clean sheet here might be too much to ask, as Urruti and Rodriguez are both playing well enough to generate some dangerous chances for Houston against any defensive unit.
Expected metrics indicated the first match should have finished with around three goals, and Kansas City’s high-paced offense can do even better this time considering how well it has played since that game. As it looks like Kansas City is going to play in a lot of high scoring games this season, three goals should be a comfortable number for these teams to clear.