HOUSTON – While many across the city of Houston watch as the Astros try to advance in Major League Baseball's playoffs on Wednesday, at least 30 sets of Houstonian eyes will be on an MLS game in Salt Lake City.
With their playoffs aspirations bordering on wishes more than reality, the Houston Dynamo are clinging to the chance that their season will be more than 34 games. Sitting three points out with two games to go means that other teams will determine that fate.
Houston need help. And as the Portland Timbers play Real Salt Lake Wednesday night (9:30 pm ET; MLS LIVE) and the San Jose Earthquakes host Sporting Kansas City on Friday (11 pm ET; UniMas) all the Dynamo can do is sit back and hope that their Sunday game vs. the Seattle Sounders (5 pm ET; ESPN) still has meaning when they walk on the field.
“Ideally everybody wants to have their destiny in their own hands,” said head coach Owen Coyle, “but as it is all we can do is sit and wait.
“Of course it’s only human nature that we’ll be looking to see what those results are.”
No player wants to depend on that kind of help, but that’s where an up-and-down season has left the Dynamo. Wins by the Timbers and Earthquakes would mean Houston would have to win their remaining two games and hope to take the edge on a tiebreaker.
Slim chances for sure, but it is all the Dynamo have to cling to. And they still have a game Sunday against one of the most talented teams in MLS – a team itself in need of a win to advance their playoff position.
Houston’s one ace in the hole has been their play at home: They’re 7-1-1 in their last nine at BBVA Compass Stadium. To give themselves any chance, they’ll need to extend that this weekend.
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“It comes down to us winning on Sunday,” said Will Bruin. “One hundred percent [it’s a must-win game]. If we don’t win this game … in my mind we’re eliminated. Even ties aren’t good enough. We’ve got to get six points out of these last two.”
Bruin said he doesn’t feel a pressure to score, despite being the player the club will lean on to produce goals. But keeping the ball and producing chances is what will set them apart.
At this point it is all long shots and hope in Houston. The Orange have not surrendered, but they know all they can do is sit and wait, and hope they still have a chance when they take the field.
“When all’s said and done, once those results are in and they are what they are, then you re-evaluate what you’ve got to do,” Coyle said. “We have to win both our games anyways. The only game we can concentrate on is Seattle. If you can’t win that, then everything else counts for nothing anyways.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.