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With playoffs eluding them, Houston Dynamo seek opportunities for less-seasoned players

Houston Dynamo forward Mauro Manotas (9) dribbles as Seattle Sounders FC defender Nouhou Tolo (5) pursues

While there are still games left on the 2018 MLS schedule for the Houston Dynamo, the season effectively ended for them Monday night, with a 4-1 to the Seattle Sounders that officially eliminated them from the playoff race with three games left to play.

While the U.S. Open Cup win two weeks ago put the Dynamo in a better mind frame than they otherwise would be in missing the playoffs, it may feel a bit anticlimactic when they travel to Banc of California Stadium Friday for their first-ever away match against LAFC. Kickoff is scheduled for 10 p.m. ET.  

The trip is made more unusual by being one of only four matches on the MLS schedule this week. Plus, a combination of injuries and players out on international break — the reason for the truncated weekend schedule — means the Dynamo might field some less-seasoned players among the regular starters still with the team. 

“We have enough guys to play, and hopefully they take this opportunity the best way possible,” said coach Wilmer Cabrera in addressing his roster for the match. “They have to step up, and they have to show why they’re here. It’s an opportunity . . . and hopefully they take advantage of it. 

LAFC, which officially secured its spot in the playoffs by beating Colorado 3-0 last Saturday, is now playing for home-field advantage, or possibly even a first-round bye. Cabrera recognizes the task at hand for his team against the surprising expansion side. 

“They have very good, talented players, especially in the middle,” Cabrera said of LAFC. “They’re a possession-oriented team; they need to have the ball to be dangerous. They have good quality up front. If we don’t take care of the ball correctly, it’s going to be a long night for us.” 

The Dynamo certainly don’t want to repeat the long night they had Monday against the Sounders — only salvaged by a rare DaMarcus Beasley goal in the match’s final minutes.

“We definitely want to learn from that game and make sure it doesn’t happen again,” said defender Kevin Garcia. “I think there are some positives and negatives from that game. We drew what we could from that game and now we’re moving forward.” 

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