MLS

Dynamo-Sporting Kansas City Preview

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It's been almost two months since the Houston Dynamo lost a match. That defeat came at the hands of Sporting Kansas City.

The Dynamo try to avenge that loss Sunday as the two hottest teams in MLS meet in the Eastern Conference finals at Kansas City.

Houston has won four straight and is 6-0-2 since losing 3-0 at Kansas City on Sept. 10. The Dynamo defeated Philadelphia 1-0 on Thursday and beat the Union 3-1 on total scoring in the first-round, setting up this rematch of the 2007 conference championship.

Houston beat Kansas City 2-0 in 2007, en route to its second straight MLS Cup title. Back in the conference finals for the second time in three seasons, the Dynamo will now try to avoid a third straight road loss to Kansas City.

"Kansas City is an extremely tough team,'' said veteran Dynamo forward Brian Ching, who had a goal and an assist versus Philadelphia. "They are playing really tough right now. They are one of the best teams in the league. They are playing at home, which will be extremely tough for us.

"Saying that, we are a team on a roll. Hopefully, we can continue on this run. I'd love to see this team make it to the final."

Standing in the way is a Kansas City club that has recorded four straight shutouts and not allowed a goal in 365 minutes. Sporting KC, which overcame a 1-6-1 start to win the Eastern Conference regular-season title, used a pair of 2-0 victories over Colorado to advance to its first conference final the loss to the Dynamo four years ago.

Kansas City is 5-0-2 since losing 1-0 at Real Salt Lake on Sept. 17.

"It's been that hot team in the playoffs that usually makes a good run of it," midfielder Graham Zusi told Sporting KC's official website. "That's what we are right now. We're a hot team, and we're tough to beat right now."

Kansas City has not reached the MLS Cup since losing 3-2 to DC United in 2004. The club won its only league title in 2000, as the Kansas City Wizards.

"We're here now because we've done it at the end of the season," coach Peter Vermes said. "These guys have really stepped up. We know we still have work to do, but I think we've achieved something.''

Kansas City outscored the Dynamo 4-1 during the regular season, allowing only a Brad Davis goal in a 1-all tie at Houston on July 16. Despite being stymied by Sporting KC this season, the Dynamo don't expect to veer from their current approach that has resulted in an undefeated eight-game run.

"I think we're going to play our game," defender Geoff Cameron told the Dynamo's official website. "I don't think we're going to adapt to their style. We're going to adjust going in there and play our game."

Kansas City rookie forward C.J. Sapong, who scored versus Colorado on Wednesday, had a goal against the Dynamo in September.

Teammate Teal Bunbury has scored two of his team-leading 11 goals versus Houston. He's scored four times in his last five matches overall.

The winner of this match faces either Real Salt Lake or Los Angeles in the MLS Cup on Nov. 20 in Carson, Calif.



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