Ah, the oddities of the CONCACAF Champions League schedule. The Houston Dynamo go into Wednesday night's match against W Connection FC in second place in the group, but with an important advantage - they have a match in hand. With only three clubs in each group, the schedules are offset, so the Dynamo have played two matches to their opponents' three.
What does this mean, you ask? Well, the Dynamo sit two points behind Aribe Unido. Win against W Connection, and the men in Orange can go down to Panama knowing that a draw in their final match will see them through to the knockout stages. Draw or lose, and they'd have to g play for the full three points in a very hostile environment. In short, the situation here is much as it is in the playoff race: the Dynamo's fate is in their own hands.
Luckily for the Dynamo, that match in hand comes here at BBVA Compass Stadium, against a club already out of contention. That being said, remember: there is no such thing as an easy three points. In their match in Trinidad and Tobago on 20 August, the Dynamo looked almost sluggish, bored and uninterested, fielding an XI of substitutes and reserves en route to collecting a point from a scoreless draw.
I don't see that happening here. Not at home, where the orange clad fans will (hopefully - I realize the midweek matches are hard to get to) be in attendance to cheer. Not at home, where we fought stretchers, antics and Arabe Unido to grab three points last month. Coming off of the weekend's thrashing of Chivas USA, you'd hope that some of that momentum carries over (but not too much, some does need to be saved for the weekend), but few things are ever certain in this sport.
One thing that is, however, is that ninety minutes of play will decide where these clubs stand. The lines are drawn, and the stakes are clear. Everyone knows where they stand. Can the Dynamo make the most of this opportunity and put themselves back in the drivers' seat of this group? By Wednesday night, we'll know for sure.