Dynamo-Sporting Kansas City Preview

The Associated Press

Sporting Kansas City's worst home loss in over four years cost the club a bit more than just a measure of confidence in its normally steady back line.

It also knocked the defending MLS Cup champions out of first place in the Eastern Conference, something they'll try to regain Friday night at home against a Houston Dynamo club trying to correct a dismal road stretch.

Kansas City (12-7-6) suffered a 3-0 loss to D.C. United on Saturday after conceding each goal during a seven-minute span in the middle of the first half. Coach Peter Vermes blamed the series of counter attacks on his well-respected defense.

"There has been a lot of credit given to our back four over a long period of time, but the way that they performed tonight, they're going to get the credit for giving up three goals," Vermes told the club's official website.

D.C. was cooled off in Wednesday's 4-1 loss to Los Angeles, so Kansas City remains a point back and finds itself in position to immediately retake the conference's top spot.

Sporting hadn't allowed three goals in league play this season and hadn't lost an MLS match by at least three since falling 4-0 in Philadelphia on June 23, 2012. Its previous home defeat by that margin across all competitions was a 3-0 loss to New York on June 26, 2010.

"We lost 3-0 at home," center back Matt Besler said. "Obviously it was a terrible performance from us, one of the worst since I've been here. We have to put this one behind us fast because we have a lot of big games coming up."

Defensive issues have been entirely absent in recent meetings against Houston, though, with Sporting keeping five clean sheets over a 4-0-3 stretch dating to Nov. 7, 2012.

Most recently, Kansas City handed the Dynamo a 2-0 home defeat June 6. Dom Dwyer, who ranks second in MLS with 16 goals, scored for a second straight match against the Dynamo.

Houston (7-13-4) also has a 3-0 defeat on its mind after falling Saturday in Columbus, but multigoal losses have become the norm for Kansas City's fellow 2013 Eastern finalist.

The Dynamo have alternated shutouts with their last four opponents, but a 3-9-2 stretch since May 11 has produced nine multigoal losses with an MLS-high 31 goals conceded - despite playing fewer games than the next three teams on the list.

The greatest concern could be their 1-10-1 record on the road, which features six shutouts over the course of seven straight losses and a minus-18 goal differential.

"It's kind of the elephant in the room," forward Will Bruin told the club's official website. "... At this point, any points on the road are positives."

The latest letdown didn't include left back DaMarcus Beasley, who missed the match with a hamstring injury. The club is 2-1-0 while allowing two goals with the four-World Cup veteran on the field since he made the move from Liga MX to MLS after starting all four matches for the U.S. in Brazil. Beasley's status will be a game-day decision.