So this is it. With their 3-0 loss to New York last Sunday, the Houston Dynamo find themselves on the precipice. It's quite possible that for just the second time in their eight year history, the club could miss the playoffs. They sit in sixth place right now, and thus do not control their own destiny, but we'll cover that later.
To have any chance of extending their season, the Dynamo must win Sunday afternoon. In this regard, though, they're helped out by their schedule. At the beginning of the season, this fixture looked like it could have been a nightmare, but instead, it's turned into a favorable prospect. The Dynamo's last match is against D.C. United, who are going to finish on the bottom of the Eastern Conference (and still qualify for next year's CONCACAF Champions League thanks to their victory in the US Open Cup final). Granted, it's at RFK Stadium, but the Dynamo have already won there once this season, a 4-0 thrashing on 8 May.
This match, however, will almost certainly prove to be different. DCU have spent the last month or so trying to play spoiler in the East, and they'll have one last chance to do so against a club that has been very inconsistent as of late. The Dynamo's run of six matches unbeaten came to a screeching halt last Sunday, and they've not been too consistent in bouncing back this season.
The Dynamo will, however, have the benefit of an almost completely healthy roster, with only Brian Ownby expected to not be available. Brad Davis and Boniek Garcia didn't travel to Panama, and thus should be extra rested, and coach Dominic Kinnear should be able to field the best starting XI possible. This is the one thing the Dynamo can control, and it's hoped that they can continue their recent dominance of this matchup.
Back to the postseason picture. The Dynamo could conceivably finish anywhere between third and seventh in the East, but whether or not they move up is dependent on other results. Third place Montreal plays in Toronto on Saturday afternoon, while fourth place Chicago and fifth place New England both play after the Dynamo on Sunday (Chicago plays in New York, while New England plays in Columbus).
But moving up is only possible if the Dynamo take points away from RFK Stadium Sunday afternoon. Bottom of the conference or not, DCU is going to come to play. I like to say that there's no such thing as a given three points, and this is the type of match I have in mind when I say that. Players like Lionard Pajoy, Nick DeLeon, Luis Silva, and Dwayne De Rosario are still huge threats to score (even if they haven't done much of it this season), and Bill Hamid is a goalkeeper consistently in the picture as a member of the national team. The results might not show it, but they have talent, and shouldn't be overlooked.
The Dynamo face heavy odds in their quest for another postseason berth. There's no reason to sugarcoat it - there's a good chance that even if they win here in D.C., they'll still find themselves on the outside looking in. That's just the way their luck has held for most of this season. Still, history is rife with the stories of long odds that were beaten in spectacular fashion. There's a chance that come Sunday night, the Dynamo will have added their tale to this list. One can hope, but it's all a moot point if, after ninety minutes at RFK Stadium, the Dynamo don't come away with a favorable result.
It could happen. Now, it's up to the Dynamo (and Fate) to make it do so.