Sporting Kansas City-Dynamo Preview
Tab Ramos has praised Houston Dynamo's fighting spirit for continuing to battle away during a "brutal schedule," which continues with Wednesday's visit of Sporting Kansas City.
The Dynamo have taken points from three of their first four matches - albeit just one of those being a victory - all against teams that made the 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs.
Next up for the Orange is a meeting with Sporting, who finished last season top of the Western Conference, and Ramos wants his players to continue digging deep.
"Our first 11 or 12 games of the season, no disrespect to any team obviously, but it's a pretty brutal schedule to start with," he said. "We're hanging in there and learning.
"I see my players fighting for each other, I see us fighting for the fans and for the team.
"That's something, when players get to that moment and when they start to love the club and they start to fight for each other, that's the moment you can start doing big things."
Houston have drawn back-to-back games with Los Angeles FC and rivals FC Dallas, while Sporting enter this game on the back of a late 2-1 comeback win over Austin FC at the weekend.
SKC recovered from a goal down and now have seven points from four matches, placing them fifth in the Western Conference, and Peter Vermes feels his team are working their way into form.
"I think we're trying to find ourselves for a number of reasons," he said. "We're still trying to get fit and trying to just get bodies on the field.
"There's a lot of different things that we're trying to do right now. We're just not fully ready yet.
"What I really like is the guys kept a good mentality going into the second half against Austin and really never gave up with trying to get back into the game."
Houston Dynamo - Maynor Figueroa
Ramos' side have scored in all four of their MLS games this term, netting five times in total, but they have also conceded in all four - something they have to improve on.
The experienced figure of Figueroa was brought into the back four last time out and now has a chance to form a solid partnership with Tim Parker alongside him.
Sporting Kansas City - Gadi Kinda
Like opponents Houston, Sporting will also consider making changes with three games to play in the space of a week.
Kinda was brought on as a substitute against Austin and completed the turnaround with a last-gasp strike - doubling his goals tally for 2021 - so he should return to the side in midweek.
- Sporting have won five of their last eight matches against Houston (D1 L2) dating back to June 2018. The Dynamo had previously gone unbeaten in the last nine meetings (W5 D4) from August 2014 to October 2017.
- The Dynamo have only lost three of their last 16 home matches (W7 D6) dating back to mid-August 2019. The only three visiting teams to win at BBVA Compass Stadium in that time are Kansas City, Nashville SC and Colorado Rapids.
- Sporting lost 3-1 at Real Salt Lake in their last away match. They have lost just three of their 11 away games since the start of last season (W6 D2) after losing five straight away from home to close the 2019 campaign.
- Picault scored a penalty for the Dynamo in their 1-1 draw with Dallas on Saturday. Picault's last three goals have all been scored in Texas derbies, with his previous two coming for Dallas against his current team on October 31 last season.
- SKC scored two late goals to beat Austin 2-1 on Sunday. The team that has scored the first goal has gone on to collect just one point in Sporting's first four matches this season.
Updated May 11, 2021