Sporting Kansas City will open the MLS Cup Playoffs at 2:30 p.m. CT on Sunday against the Houston Dynamo at BBVA Compass Stadium. The first leg of the Eastern Conference Semifinals will air live nationally on NBC and Sports Radio 810 WHB, whose coverage begins at 2:00 p.m. CT with Callum Williams and Jake Yadrich.
The return leg will take place at 8:00 p.m. CT on Wednesday at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park. A limited number of tickets are still available and can be purchased online at Ticketmaster.com or at the LSP Box Offices.
The two-game, aggregate goal series will send the winner to the Eastern Conference Championship to face the victor between No. 2 D.C. United and No. 3 New York. If the aggregate score is tied after 180 minutes of play, two 15-minute extra time periods will be played in their entirety, followed by penalty kicks, if necessary.
Sporting Kansas City secured the Eastern Conference’s top seed for the second straight season and will begin their Quest for the Cup, presented by Budweiser, with a rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference Championship. Houston prevailed 2-0 at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park one year ago to reach the MLS Cup and start a four-game unbeaten streak against Sporting KC in MLS competition.
The clubs met three times during the 2012 MLS regular season. Sporting KC recorded draws against the Dynamo in each of the two matches played at LSP and suffered the team’s last road loss in a 2-1 defeat at BBVA Compass Stadium in July.
Sporting Kansas City's record in the all-time series stands at 3-8-6 (including playoffs) and the club is winless in its last seven trips to Houston. The team’s lone road victory in the series came in the inaugural meeting in April 2006.
Houston, who reached the Eastern Conference Semifinals with a 2-1 win over the Chicago Fire on Wednesday at Toyota Park, is undefeated in their last 28 home games in all competition and completed the fourth unbeaten home season in MLS history (11-0-6) in 2012. The Dynamo are participating in the postseason for the sixth time in the team’s seven seasons and head coach Dominic Kinnear’s 11 playoff victories rank fourth most in MLS history.
Sporting Kansas City enters the match-up unbeaten in the team’s last 12 games and coming off a 10-day break since the team’s 2-1 win in the regular season finale. Manager Peter Vermes will be without midfielder Paulo Nagamura due to injury, however Honduran international Roger Espinoza is expected to be available after recovering from an ankle sprain suffered last month.
The team led Major League Soccer this season with a 0.79 goals against average and boasted the best road record in the League with a .618 winning percentage. Captain Jimmy Nielsen’s 18 victories during the regular season matched the most for a goalkeeper in the non-shootout era and his 15 shutouts were one shy of the League’s all-time mark.
Graham Zusi led all MLS players with 15 assists and forward Kei Kamara posted personal career highs with 11 goals and eight assists. Reigning MLS Rookie of the Year C.J. Sapong contributed nine goals, including five game-winners to lead the team.