Two games. That's all that is left on the Houston Dynamo's schedule. For all the criticism suffered this season, the team still remains mathematically a factor in the playoff chase (although reliant on straight losses from Portland and San Jose). Of course, that's only if they win their final two games of the season -- beginning with a final home stand against Western contenders, Seattle Sounders FC.
The Cascadia team is headed to Houston for a Sunday afternoon kickoff and will be bringing US International Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins along. The tandem are combined for 22 goals and 14 assists with other players like Lamar Neagle and Marco Pappa helping to contribute to the attack.
This multi-faceted scoring machine is sure to get minutes in Houston as Seattle haven't yet shored up their spot in the 2015 MLS Playoffs yet. Tied with Portland at 47 points, Seattle holds onto the West's fifth spot thanks to their number of wins but a poor string of results to end the year could leave them outside looking in. With that in mind, Houston shouldn't expect for regular starters to sit and will have a tough defensive task ahead of them.
Owen Coyle is faced with the decision to either throw in the towel and run out players lower on the depth chart (like Chandler Hoffman or Zach Steinberger) or go for it and hope that back-to-back wins to end the season is enough to reach the playoffs (with miraculous help, for the record). All signs point to a strong push for the playoffs so expect to see DaMarcus Beasley (fresh off a 3-2 defeat to Mexico) along with the usual back line starters attempting to hold off a Seattle blitz.
On the other side of the field, Cubo Torres has seen remarkable success for the U-23 Mexico squad in the past week, helping the national team qualify for the Olympics on the back of his fantastic play, netting multiple goals and setting up assists throughout qualification matches (check out his goal against Honduras here). I'd say that's earned him a start with the club and it's possible that Coyle might opt to give him a full run against a Sounders team that has let in at least a goal in six of their last seven matches. All other International players are back for Houston this weekend and a pretty light injury report bodes well for a team that has struggled so much with roster absences earlier in the year.
But is it enough? Most fans have given up hope for the season but Houston still has an incredibly narrow path to the playoffs. So long as they defeat Seattle on Sunday, they'll stay mathematically alive for the final week of the season. And in a league where seemingly anything can happen, that just might be enough for the Houston Dynamo.
MATCHES TO WATCH
LA GALAXY v. PORTLAND TIMBERS (SUN, 6:00PM): The only must-watch for the weekend, a Portland draw or win at Los Angeles will eliminate the Dynamo from playoff contention. It's a tough task for the Timbers, as well, so it's considered likely that Houston will live to at least see another week. That is, of course, if they beat Seattle first.
The Houston Dynamo host Seattle Sounders FC at BBVA Compass Stadium on Sunday, October 18th at 4:00PM (CDT). This is the final home match of the season for Houston and will feature a special 10th anniversary celebration, with past legends Brian Ching, Wade Barrett, Dwayne De Rosario, Eddie Robinson, Craig Waibel, and Pat Onstad in attendance. It will also be a national broadcast, featured on ESPN. Radio broadcast can be found on 1560AM/850AM.