The Houston Dynamo continue to be in win-or-else mode, needing results to keep slim playoff hopes alive. Last Tuesday, though, they got a chance to bask in the glory of their U.S. Open Cup win with a ceremony involving Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner.
And this past weekend, while idle, they were in root-for-other-teams mode — namely for the Portland Timbers, whose 4-1 win over Real Salt Lake kept them mathematically in the hunt for the sixth and final playoff spot.
Now, though, it’s up to the Dynamo to keep themselves in the playoff picture with two road matches against top-five Western Conference teams this week — one Monday, one Friday — to see if they can stay in contention for the sixth and final spot in the West.
Monday’s opponent, the Seattle Sounders, weathered an early-season slump and lifted themselves into playoff contention — in part thanks to the midseason acquisition of Peruvian striker Raul Ruidiaz. The Sounders will be without the services of Ruidiaz, as well as defender Gustav Svensson, who have both already departed for international duty in advance of the upcoming break.
Of course, Houston will be without a significant group of players, including Ronaldo Pena (called up to Venezuela’s squad), Alberth Elis and Romell Quioto (for international duty with Honduras), Adolfo Machado (going to Panama for his international break) and Arturo Alvarez (who was called up by El Salvador).
Still, the team left to contend will hope to take its U.S. Open Cup-winning energy into their West Coast road trip.
“Wilmer [is] challenged us. He said his club’s never won in Seattle before. But at the same time, we’ve never come back from an 0-2 deficit to win 3-2,” Dynamo defender A.J. DeLaGarza said, referring to the season-saving home win against the San Jose Earthquakes on Sept. 29, “and we’d never won the U.S. Open Cup.
“We’re still in it mathematically, so the first thing we’ve got to do is take care of ourselves. By some chance, if the other teams lose out on all the points they could possibly need … that’s obviously going to be really hard. But we can only do what we can control.”
Should the Dynamo beat Seattle on Monday, they move down the coast for an equally consequential match without the same five international players against LAFC on Friday. Their final home match is the 21st against the Sounders, and if the situation sets up just right, the final match of the season, at StubHub Center against the LA Galaxy on the 28th, could be for the final playoff spot.
But it will take a whole lot of winning on the Dynamo’s part … and then some.