Houston Dynamo FC host Sporting Kansas City at Shell Energy Stadium in the Audi MLS Cup Western Conference Semifinals on Sunday, Nov. 26, with kickoff scheduled for 6:00 p.m. CT. The winner will secure a spot in the Western Conference Final to face either LAFC or Seattle Sounders on Dec. 2 at 8:30 p.m. CT.
Ahead of the match, the Dynamo will bring back “Orange Avenue”, a free pre-match fan party, located on Rusk Street on the west side of Shell Energy Stadium. In the buildup to kickoff, fans can enjoy music from EZ Band and DJ Nemesis, while enjoying local food trucks and a cold beer in the Bud Light Beer Garden. Fans can also anticipate special appearances from Dynamo leadership and alumni. Additionally, upon entry to the stadium, all fans will receive a rally towel, powered by Shell Energy, to support the Dynamo in the final home game of the year.
Fourth-seeded Houston advanced to the Western Conference Semifinals for the eighth time after defeating fifth-seeded Real Salt Lake in the Round One Best-of-3 series. The Dynamo won Game 3 in Houston 4-3 on a penalty shootout after playing to a 1-1 draw in regulation, as goalkeeper Steve Clark made two stops and defender Griffin Dorsey converted the final attempt to secure victory. During regulation, forward Corey Baird scored his first-career MLS postseason goal in the 28th minute, and looking ahead, has scored four goals and recorded one assist in 12 regular season matchups versus Sporting KC. Captain Héctor Herrera assisted on Baird’s goal and recorded two assists in a 2-2 draw versus Kansas City in July. In Round One, Houston won Game 1 of the series 2-1 at home, while Game 2 went Salt Lake’s way after a penalty shootout in Utah.
Eighth-seeded Kansas City took down top-seeded rivals St. Louis CITY SC in two games in the Round One Best-of-3 series. Sporting defeated CITY 4-1 on the road in Game 1 behind goals from Logan Ndenbe, Rémi Walter, Gadi Kinda and Dániel Sallói. At home in Game 2, Kansas City closed the series with a 2-1 victory with Ndenbe and Sallói scoring another goal each.
Houston and Kansas City have a storied history and fierce rivalry, as this will be the sixth time that the two clubs have met in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs. The Dynamo hold a 4-1 postseason record over Sporting in which Houston has outscored Kansas City 8 goals to 3. Notably, Sporting has never won a postseason match in Houston, where they hold a 0-3-1 (WLD) record. The most recent postseason result saw Houston win 1-0 at home in a 2017 Wild Card game. Both teams met earlier this year in a knockout tournament with Houston securing a 1-0 victory at Shell Energy Stadium in the Round of 32 of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on May 10. In all competitions this year, the two teams have played to a 1-1-1 (WLD) record.
A victory on Sunday would secure Houston a place in the Western Conference Final for the first time since 2017 and would face either LAFC and Seattle Sounders on Saturday, Dec. 2 at 8:30 p.m. CT.
Here are three key points ahead of Sunday’s match:
- FORM ON FIRE: Both Houston and Kansas City have had formidable form for an extended period, bringing the heat of summer into the fall. The Dynamo have only lost one match in regulation* since returning to MLS play after reaching the Round of 16 in the Leagues Cup (*tied Real Salt Lake 1-1 in regulation in Game 2 before falling 5-4 on penalties). Since Aug. 20, the team has posted a 9-1-6 (WLD) record in all competitions, including 6-0-3 (WLD) at home, while outscoring opponents 34-12 during that stretch. In the same time span, Sporting has earned an 8-3-1 (WLD) record in all competitions, including a 4-1-0 (WLD) record on the road, while outscoring opponents 23-17. That form is in part due to the men in charge, as Dynamo head coach Ben Olsen (626) and Sporting head coach Peter Vermes (707) are two of just four people in league history who have played or coached in 600 MLS matches.
- DON’T CORNER THE DYNAMO: When its back is against the wall, Houston boasts an 8-1 (W-L) record in eliminations games this year. That includes six regulation victories on the way to the Club’s second Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup title, culminating in a 2-1 victory at Inter Miami CF in September. During this summer’s Leagues Cup, the Dynamo made a run to the Round of 16 after defeating C.F. Pachuca, the top-seeded team from Liga MX, 5-3 on penalties at Shell Energy Stadium in the Round of 32.
- PROTECTIVE SHELL: After the results versus Real Salt Lake during the Round One Best-of-3 series, the Dynamo now boasts a 16-3-6 (WLD) record in all competitions this year at Shell Energy Stadium. Over the course of the MLS regular season, Houston earned 11 league wins at home, tied for the most in the Western Conference with top-seeded St. Louis CITY SC, while outscoring visiting teams 36-11. Results were highlighted by a 5-0 victory over Portland (Aug. 20) and 5-1 victory versus Colorado (Oct. 7) in which the Dynamo scored four first-half goals twice in a season for the first time since 2008.