The Dynamo's season is over in retrospect, but there's just one thing left to finish -- The 2014 MLS season.
Houston will begin to cope with life on the fringe of the MLS playoffs for only the second time in its history after dropping a crucial match with playoff implications this past Sunday by a tough scoreline of 3-1 to the MLS Eastern Conference leaders DC United.
Despite this past Sunday's heartbreaking loss to D.C. United, it's not going to get easier when one of the league's most in-form teams in the New England Revolution visit BBVA Compass Stadium on Thursday.
The conversations over this past week that delved deep into what truly held the Dynamo back in a season that ultimately saw the playoffs out of reach ranged from injuries, to ownership, and to the front office staff, which were most likely fueled by the collective tears of Dynamo fans and their alcoholic binge drinking. None of the reasons above addresses the two games remaining in this season as we begin to carve out a plan for next season.
Fans can reminisce of better times earlier this season when the Dynamo pumped the Revs on opening day 4-0 the last time these two met in Houston, but both teams are in a lot different positions near the end of the season in what some would believe to be reversed positions from preseason speculation. The Revs sit on a comfortable 49 points and a 15-13-4 record (7-2-1 in their past ten games), which is good enough for second in the Eastern Conference.
Midfielder Lee Nguyen has been a major piece in the Revs rise to power in the east, increasing his 2014 goal total to 15 in comparison to 2013's total of four. He's done it in 456 less minutes so far with two games to spare, too.
Left back DaMarcus Beasley is doubtful for Thursday's clash after pulling up in pain with a hamstring injury in the 12th minute while chasing down DC's Nick DeLeon just before the 18-yard-box. Dynamo fans can be hopeful to see him before the end of the season. After three ACL injuries being suffered by the Dynamo this season, let's take solace in the fact we're not shutting him down for what could be a good eight months. Small victories, folks.
Different motivations will dictate different choices by both teams in fielding their rosters as both will test and rest different players and tactics before the end of the MLS regular season. Of course, youth could draw into the Dynamo's plans with playoffs out of the question, while the Revs might leave out some veteran players with playoffs looming in Novermber and a potential match-up with any one of Kansas City, Columbus, New York, or even Toronto pending certain results.
Player retention will be on the minds of the Dynamo staff. With the expansion draft looming thanks to the introduction of NYCFC and Orlando next season, key decisions need to be made about who's going to be protected by the Dynamo. These last two games could be a final chance to impress for some players that could find themselves on the bubble at the end of the season.
With six points from the final two games, the Dynamo could push themselves to as high as sixth in the Eastern Conference. What will that prove? Nothing. Only that we came just short of the ultimate goal of competing for the MLS Cup, which has become part of the status quo in Houston since joining the league in 2005, winning back-to-back titles in 2006 and 2007.
It'll be a slow crawl to the end of the season for Dynamo fans, and we want your opinions. What should be our key motivations going into the final two game weeks? Give us your feedback in the comments below.