Following a 1-1 stalemate against FC Dallas on Wednesday, Sporting Kansas City (5-2-2, 17 points) faces a quick turnaround by traveling south to battle rivals Houston Dynamo (2-2-4, 10 points) for the third time this season on Saturday at BBVA Stadium.
The Western Conference clash will kick off at 7 p.m. CT with three hours of live coverage beginning at 6:30 p.m. CT on FOX Sports Kansas City Plus, FOX Sports Midwest Plus and FOX Sports GO. Local radio broadcasts will also air on Sports Radio 810 WHB and La Grande 1340 AM.
With games coming thick and fast and compelling storylines aplenty, we take a look at five prevalent narratives surrounding Saturday’s showdown.
1. Tight at the Top
For the second straight game, Sporting came from behind to secure a 1-1 draw versus FC Dallas on Wednesday. Operating in the center forward role, Khiry Shelton restored parity in first-half stoppage time with his four goal of the campaign, moving into a tie with Gadi Kinda for the team lead and equaling his MLS career-high for a single season.
The result kept Manager Peter Vermes’ side two points clear atop the Western Conference standings and just three point behind Columbus Crew SC in the Supporters’ Shield race. Given the fact that the regular season will feature an abbreviated 23-game slate, every match becomes even more pivotal in the push for silverware come Decision Day on Nov. 8.
2. Quick Turnaround
Saturday will conclude a grueling stretch of five matches in 16 days for Sporting, who have gone 1-1-2 since MLS action returned to home markets in mid-August. A momentous 2-1 road win over Minnesota United FC on Aug. 21 was followed by a home loss to Houston on Aug. 25, a draw at Colorado on Aug. 29 and a tie versus Dallas on Wednesday.
Houston’s fixture list hasn’t been quite as swamped, although head coach Tab Ramos’ men were also in action on Wednesday when they hammered Minnesota by a 3-0 scoreline. That game was the Dynamo’s first since prevailing 5-2 at Children’s Mercy Park on Aug. 25.
3. Boys to Men
Wednesday was another banner day for the Sporting Kansas City Academy, which saw five of its proud products take the field at Children’s Mercy Park. Nineteen-year-old Cameron Duke notably earned his first professional start and was joined in the all-Homegrown midfield by 18-year-old Gianluca Busio and 22-year-old Felipe Hernandez, who recorded an assist on Shelton’s equalizer. Twenty-year-old right back Jaylin Lindsey logged 90 minutes in defense and forward Daniel Salloi came off the bench in the second half. This marked just the second match in Sporting history in which five Homegrown Players took to the pitch.
4. Dominant Dynamo
Houston were the last MLS team to record a win this season, entering the victory column by defeating Sporting over a week ago at Children’s Mercy Park. They began the campaign 0-2-4 and failed to emerge from the MLS is Back Tournament group stage in Walt Disney World, but two dominant…