SKC hosts Houston with eye on top spot

Kansas City, KS ( - Sporting Kansas City will attempt to climb back atop the Eastern Conference on Friday when the club welcomes the Houston Dynamo to Sporting Park.

Kansas City slipped to second place following a hugely disappointing 3-0 home loss to D.C. United last weekend.

It was just Kansas City's second home loss in league play this season, dropping the club's record at Sporting Park to 5-2-6. Settling for so many draws on home soil has made it difficult for head coach Peter Vermes to evaluate the club's progress, but he remained adamant that he will only prepare for the next contest with its most recent outing in mind.

"It's been a strange year," Vermes said. "It's not like we've gone out with our consistent style, and there have been a lot of disruptions. So it's a difficult thing to evaluate. I couldn't care less about the games up until today. This is the one I have to evaluate now."

Suffering such a horrendous home defeat to an Eastern Conference rival has left a sour taste in the mouths of Sporting's players, and it's something they'll be out to erase on Friday.

"It was a poor performance all around," said Sporting striker Soony Saad. "We can't do that in front of our own fans, playing for first place in the East. We'll get back to training and correct things for Friday against Houston."

A win for SKC would see the club move back into the first, at least until D.C. United faces Red Bull New York at RFK Stadium on Sunday.

Houston, meanwhile, remains well adrift of the playoff picture.

The club enters the weekend on the back of a 3-0 loss to the Columbus Crew, a defeat that saw the club slip into sole possession of ninth place in the East.

Houston's last road win came in a 4-1 defeat of Chivas USA on May 3. The Dynamo have dropped their last seven league games away from BBVA Compass Stadium by a combined score of 20-2.

While Houston has struggled to score goals away from home this season, head coach Dominic Kinnear lamented his side's misfortune in conceding the opener against Columbus, a situation from which the Dynamo never recovered.

"I thought up until the goal we looked pretty good," Kinnear told after the game. "I thought that first goal took the wind out of us."

In order to assist with the defensive frailties, Corey Ashe will be counted upon to fill in for the injured DaMarcus Beasley.

"I don't think there's anything anyone could question Corey about," forward Giles Barnes told the club's official website. "Ever since the day he knew he might not be starting he's been out here working and doing his thing and that's Corey all over.

"I can't praise Corey enough. He's a good player as well. He's accepted what's happened, and he's working hard day-in-and-day-out."