Dynamo-Sporting Kansas City Preview
The addition of Erick Torres and return of Giles Barnes gives the Houston Dynamo a couple of reasons not to fret about sitting near the bottom of the Western Conference.
Matching them with Will Bruin to form an imposing offensive group is the next task for coach Owen Coyle.
He's not certain if they'll be ready to start together Saturday night as Houston looks to prevent Sporting Kansas City from tying a club-record seven-game home winning streak in MLS play.
Torres tied for seventh in the league with 15 goals last season for now-defunct Chivas USA before signing with Houston as a designated player in December. He made his Dynamo debut in last Saturday's 3-0 win over Los Angeles, coming on as a substitute in the 69th minute.
The forward played five games in Guadalajara before joining Houston (7-8-6) but is still conditioning to play a full 90 minutes. Barnes, who will return after missing the last three MLS matches, also might not start against Sporting KC (9-4-6) after undertaking extensive travel for six Gold Cup matches while helping Jamaica reach the championship game.
Bruin has scored in both victories during a 2-1-0 stretch, and his nine goals are tied for fourth in league play. With the trio intact, Houston is focused on moving up from seventh in the highly competitive West and making a playoff push.
"What I know is when we get (Torres) up to speed, then I get Giles Barnes back, and I really believe I can find a front three of Barnes, Bruin and Torres that can really complement themselves," Coyle said. "For me, it's exciting moving forward."
Barnes scored twice and Bruin added a goal as Houston and Kansas City played to a 4-all draw in the first meeting April 25. Benny Feilhaber scored his second goal in the fifth minute of stoppage time to secure the tie for Sporting.
Feilhaber scored after entering as a substitute in a 2-1 loss to Real Salt Lake on July 24, Sporting KC's third match in seven days. Coach Peter Vermes didn't want to play Feilhaber the full 90 minutes because of the condensed schedule, but he still scored in his third straight match across all competitions.
"He's playing with a lot of confidence right now," defender Matt Besler said of Feilhaber. "It's great when you have a guy like that playing on your team, and hopefully he can keep his form up."
This will be the second matchup between these clubs within two weeks. Feilhaber, Dom Dwyer and Krisztian Nemeth scored in a 3-1 win over Houston in U.S. Open Cup play July 21 in Kansas City.
Sporting, five points behind West-leading FC Dallas in fourth place, is unbeaten at home across all competitions, including a 7-0-3 mark in MLS play. It's looking to match the 1998 and 2000 clubs for the longest MLS home winning streak in team history.
Bruin scored in last week's meeting for the Dynamo, 1-3-3 in their last seven trips to Kansas City in all competitions.