Houston Dynamo’s new interim head coach Kenny Bundy hopes his players will play with more freedom after a change of regime as they approach Saturday’s clash with Sporting Kansas City.

The Dynamo parted company with Paulo Nagamura on Monday with the team bottom of the Western Conference after a 2-1 loss at the Seattle Sounders. Dynamo 2 head coach Bundy has stepped up for the remainder of the season and hopes to get the squad enjoying its game once again.

“My job is to make sure that they’re put in the best situation to go out and compete for the fans and for themselves on the weekend,” said Bundy. “For me as well, it’s for them to get to understand who I am more. However, one of my strengths is wanting to spend a lot of time answering questions and getting to know people.

“We want the players to feel comfortable and freer in their mind to go and express themselves – and I think that’s what the fans, coaching staff, and the club want at the end of the day.”

Upcoming opponent Sporting KC is just one point better off than its host and is some way adrift of the playoff hunt, but claimed a respectable draw at the LA Galaxy last time out.

Midfielder Felipe Hernandez believes the team has shown improvements across the board during a three-match unbeaten run that includes two wins.

“(We need to) just continue doing what we’ve been doing for the past month or so. I think we’ve done well in all three phases of the game: defensively, offensively and set pieces,” Hernandez said. “That’s the important thing. We have just got to keep working on those and minimize the mistakes and we’ll be in a good spot.”

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Houston Dynamo – Darwin Quintero

With seven goals and two assists to his name this season, Colombian forward Quintero will hope to impress if given the chance by the new interim Dynamo boss.

Sporting Kansas City – Daniel Salloi

The Hungary international has six goals for Sporting KC this term, a tally bettered only by Johnny Russell (eight), and could be set to profit from the hosts’ shortcomings.

KEY OPTA FACTS

– Sporting Kansas City has won three straight MLS matches against Houston, including a 1-0 victory on March 5 for the first three-match winning streak by either team against the other in the history of the series.

– Houston’s 2-1 defeat at the Seattle Sounders on Sunday was its 16th loss on the season, equaling the team’s total from last year. The Dynamo have lost more matches in a regular season only twice: 18 defeats in 2019 and 17 defeats in 2014.

– Sporting Kansas City is unbeaten in three straight matches (W2 D1) for just the second time this season (D3 in April-May). Sporting has recorded at least one four-match unbeaten streak in every season since 2000.

– The Dynamo were held to a season-low four shots in their defeat at Seattle on Sunday. It was only the second time in the last five MLS seasons that Houston failed to attempt at least five shots in a match (three at Los Angeles FC in June 2021).

– Sporting Kansas City scored twice in its draw with the LA Galaxy on Sunday, taking the team to 14 goals in its last five matches. That is one more goal than Sporting managed in its previous 16 MLS matches combined dating back to April 23.