Kansas City, KS (Sports Network) - This wasn't how the Eastern Conference
semifinals were supposed to unfold.
Sporting Kansas City concluded the regular season atop the East with 63
points, 10 points more than its playoff opponent, the Houston Dynamo.
But Houston, which edged the Chicago Fire 2-1 in the Eastern Conference play-
in game, emerged from the first leg of its playoff series with Sporting as 2-0
The Dynamo head to Livestrong Sporting Park on Wednesday with a two-goal
aggregate lead over a team that many pundits predicted to reach MLS Cup, but
head coach Dominic Kinnear realizes that his club still has everything to do.
"We knew Kansas City was going to come out and make it difficult for us and I
don't think that will change come Wednesday," Kinnear told MLSsoccer.com.
"They are an explosive team. They test you physically at every opportunity
with long throws and set pieces and big, strong, powerful players. By no means
is this over."
Houston has a solid record in recent playoff memory, boasting a 4-1 mark in
two-game playoff series in the club's past five trips to the postseason. The
Dynamo defied the odds last season by reaching MLS Cup, even managing to oust
Sporting in the process.
"This team was in the [MLS Cup] final last year and guys before have won so we
know not to get too high or too low," said Calen Carr. "Kansas City's a great
team and we have respect for them. We're going to be ready to continue to play
hard and be ready on Wednesday."
Sporting's task of a comeback has become even more difficult with Julio Cesar
doubtful for Wednesday's clash. The veteran midfielder picked up a quadriceps
injury late in the club's first-leg loss to Houston.
"It doesn't look good," Sporting head coach Peter Vermes told MLSsoccer.com
after Monday's training session. "I think that he's not going to be available.
They think that he might be, but my process is that he won't be available."
To further Sporting's woes, Paulo Nagamura, who missed the first leg because
of a sprained ankle, is questionable for the second leg.
"Sometimes you've got to deal with injuries and you've still got to play,"
Vermes said. "We'll go with who we have to, and I'm sure they can get the job
done. I'm confident in those guys."
The Sports Network