By THOMAS FLOYD
For all the success Sporting Kansas City have had over the past two years, the Houston Dynamo have been the one riddle the club can’t solve.
After being ousted come playoff time by Houston two seasons in a row, Kansas City will travel to BBVA Compass Stadium on Sunday and attempt to get a result against a Dynamo side that, in addition to riding a 36-game home unbeaten streak, just wrapped a 2-0 road trip.
Elsewhere around the league, the Los Angeles Galaxy visit the Vancouver Whitecaps in another playoff rematch; the Seattle Sounders host the San Jose Earthquakes in a key Western Conference tilt; and the New England Revolution take on the New York Red Bulls in a Northeast clash.
Here is a rundown of the Week 11 slate:
CHICAGO FIRE vs. PHILADELPHIA UNION (Saturday, 1:30 p.m., NBCSN)
Chicago’s struggling attack will look to get going against a short-handed Union back line, which will be without the injured Jeff Parke and suspended Sheanon Williams. With Parke out, former Fire defender Bakary Soumare is likely to make his season debut.
Chicago, meanwhile, will have to fill the void in central midfield left by the absence of suspended enforcer Jeff Larentowicz, with the versatile Daniel Paladini set to step in.
MONTREAL IMPACT vs. REAL SALT LAKE (Saturday, 2 p.m., MLS Live)
After winning back-to-back matches, Salt Lake will try to make it three in a row against an Impact squad coming off a tough midweek loss at the Red Bulls.
While Montreal’s Marco Di Vaio seems set to start after playing limited minutes at New York, Salt Lake will continue to rely on its forward depth, with Devon Sandoval, Olmes Garcia and Joao Plata producing as Alvaro Saborio (quad) and Robbie Findley (knee) work their way back from injuries.
SEATTLE SOUNDERS vs. SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (Saturday, 4 p.m., MLS Live/Univision Dep.)
Still sitting at the bottom of the Western Conference table, the Sounders will look to build off their midweek win at Kansas City by disposing of the visiting Earthquakes, who knocked off Toronto on Wednesday.
Although San Jose is getting bruising strikers Alan Gordon and Steven Lenhart back from suspension, the status of Seattle forward Obafemi Martins (leg tendon) remains up in the air.
VANCOUVER WHITECAPS vs. LOS ANGELES GALAXY (Saturday, 7 p.m., MLS Live)
After meeting in a memorable knockout-round match a year ago, in which the Galaxy came from behind to claim a 2-1 win, these two clubs will face off again as Vancouver looks to end a seven-game winless drought.
The Galaxy will hope to get striker Robbie Keane (ankle) and left back Todd Dunivant (leg strain) back in the lineup after falling at home to Houston last weekend without those key contributors.
COLUMBUS CREW vs. COLORADO RAPIDS (Saturday, 7:30 p.m., MLS Live)
Columbus, still seeking its first win since Week 1 over anyone but lowly D.C. United, will try to secure those elusive three points against the Rapids, who quietly have put together a nice 3-1-1 stretch.
The match will feature two rising stars on the MLS goalkeeping circuit, with career-backup-turned-standout Andy Gruenebaum between the posts for Columbus and minor-league journeyman Clint Irwin in goal for Colorado.
NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION vs. NEW YORK RED BULLS (Saturday, 7:30 p.m., MLS Live)
With New England’s newly acquired striker Juan Agudelo working his way back from a hamstring injury and New York captain Thierry Henry unlikely to play on the Gillette Stadium turf, both teams should be down an influential attacker in this one.
The central midfield battle should be a good one, with New England youngsters Kelyn Rowe and Scott Caldwell going up against accomplished New York veterans Juninho and Tim Cahill.
FC DALLAS vs. D.C. UNITED (Saturday, 8:30 p.m., MLS Live)
Having been outscored 15-3 over the course of six straight losses — four at home — United now must travel to face a first-place Dallas side that hasn’t lost since Week 2. In a shred of optimism, midfielder Chris Pontius (groin) seems poised to make his return for D.C.
For Dallas, centerback George John (knee) and midfielder Andrew Jacobson (hamstring) remain questionable, which could mean more minutes for London Woodberry and Je-Vaughn Watson.
PORTLAND TIMBERS vs. CHIVAS USA (Sunday, 5 p.m., MLS Live/Univision Dep.)
This is sure to be an attack-minded affair, with Caleb Porter’s possession-oriented 4-3-3 going up against a Chivas squad that has used 3-5-2 and 3-4-3 alignments this season under Jose Luis Sanchez Sola.
Winless in four, Chivas won’t have an easy task getting a result on the road against a Portland team unbeaten in eight, especially since the Goats will be without the suspended Dan Kennedy and Carlos Alvarez.
HOUSTON DYNAMO vs. SPORTING KANSAS CITY (Sunday, 8 p.m., MLS Live)
After watching Houston striker Will Bruin torch D.C. United midweek with a two-goal, two-assist performance, Kansas City coach Peter Vermes would be particularly pleased to have Matt Besler (knee) back in the lineup to help hold the poacher in check.
For Sporting’s contingent of technically proficient midfielders, including Uri Rosell, Benny Feilhaber and Graham Zusi, Houston’s aggressive defense and narrow field present a unique challenge in the possession battle.