The Houston Dynamo will look to close out the MLS Eastern Conference Semifinals on Wednesday night when they travel to Kansas City to take on Sporting KC.
The Dynamo control their destiny in this match after grabbing a 2-0 advantage in the first match on Monday night. Houston took an early lead in the first match and got a critical goal from Will Bruin late in the second half to seal the 2-0 advantage heading into tonight's contest.
As we look ahead to tonight's decisive second leg, here are the biggest keys to victory we will be looking for from both sides.
Score early to keep pressure on Houston; Contain Will Bruin
Who Will Win The Eastern Conference Semi-Finals?
Kansas City is in a hole, but not an impossible one. It has one of the most potent offenses in MLS, led by Kei Kamara and C.J. Sapong, though neither player was able to get anything going in the first leg.
For KC to make this interesting at least one of Kamara and Sapong needs to get going early. Houston feels in control at this particular moment, but one quick goal in front of a home crowd can change everything for Kansas City.
The other main objective has to be to contain Will Bruin, who has scored three times in Houston's last two matches. He led the team with 15 goals during the regular season, so whenever there is an opportunity for this team to score, odds are good it will be Bruin taking it.
Keep pressing on offense; Don't let regular-season road woes bring you down
Houston's offensive game plan in the first leg was as close to perfect as one could get. It only needed 13 shots to get two goals, and Sporting KC had no response for the Dynamo's attackers.
Will Bruin is the player most likely to beat a team, and he was able to do just that by scoring the second goal in the 75th minute of the first leg.
If something is working, why bother to change it? Revolving everything around Bruin will do two things for the Dynamo: Force KC to focus all its attention on him, and potentially open opportunities for Brad Davis.
One reason Houston was forced into an elimination match against Chicago last week is because of its dreadful 3-9-5 record on the road. The Dynamo were outscored 29-17 away from home.
Kansas City was terrific at home this season, posting a 10-4-3 record and outscoring opponents 22-12. Even though Sporting KC is down by two goals on aggregate, this team is hardly out.