Dynamo targeting title contention, open with Sporting KC

League: MLS

Posted on: 24 Feb, 2024 at 01:14 AM

Credit: Joe Puetz-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Dynamo reached the Western Conference final last season before falling, and expectations are high for another long playoff run this season.

The journey begins on Saturday night when the Dynamo host Sporting Kansas City, the club Houston defeated in the Western semifinals last season.

The 1-0 home win boosted the Dynamo into the conference final, where they lost 2-0 to host Los Angeles FC.

Houston (14-11-9, 51 points in 2023) is winless in its last six regular-season matches against Sporting Kansas City (0-4-2). The Dynamo will also be without star midfielder Hector Herrera (undisclosed surgical procedure).

Forward Corey Baird departed as a free agent after last season while defender Griffin Dorsey opted to stick with the Dynamo.

Houston recently re-signed midfielder Adalberto "Coco" Carrasquilla through the 2025 season with the club also holding two option seasons.

Carrasquilla, 25, had three goals and eight assists last season. He's counting on the Dynamo equaling last season's success.

"Last year, our team proved that the Houston Dynamo can once again be true contenders in MLS," Carrasquilla said. "... We have been working hard all preseason and hope to build a strong campaign for the upcoming year."

That Sporting Kansas City (12-14-8, 44 points) was in the Western Conference semifinals was quite the accomplishment as the club went 0-7-3 through its first 10 matches.

Sporting KC won six of their final nine regular-season matches to crash the field.

MLS Comeback Player of the Year Alan Pulido (14 goals) will again pace the attack. The forward missed the entire 2022 season due to a knee injury.

Sporting KC added midfielder Memo Rodriguez while the departures included two long-time stalwart midfielders in Graham Zusi (15 seasons with SKC) and midfielder Roger Espinoza (14 seasons).

Veteran forward Johnny Russell and goalkeeper Tim Melia are still around as part of the club's old guard.

The club has two designated player openings and SKC coach Peter Vermes said the search is ongoing.

"We're still looking and trying to make sure it's the right fit," Vermes said.

--Field Level Media