If there is a road to the playoffs, then the Houston Dynamo are off the trail without a compass. There's still a map, mind you, and they haven't been off the path for too long, but with every step that glimmer of hope fades dimmer and dimmer until we're all just left in the dark.
Lacking. Lazy. Pathetic. Fans had a lot to say about last week's game and the feeling of disappointment has begun to take root in many of those Orange faithful. A humiliating defeat at home has pitched the Dynamo in no man's land with the number of chances at the playoffs dwindling.
A hard-to-predict Philadelphia team leaves the door cracked just enough that Houston can see the post-season light but not without having a come-to-Jesus moment during this past week. The Dynamo's deficiencies were clearly highlighted against Real Salt Lake and the team will need to tighten up their defensive awareness if they want to rekindle a playoff hope.
And, as most of the year has gone, it won't be easy. Houston's backline remains plagued by injury and now Raul Rodriguez will serve a one-game suspension after punching past the yellow card accumulation built up in recent matches. This seems to indicate that Houston will be faced with the familiar dilemma of a short-handed defense anchored by out-of-position players.
Complicating this further is the possible return of Maurice Edu from a groin injury and the reintroduction of Cristian Maidana to society after spitting on Lee Nguyen a few matches ago. Maidana is tied with Benny Feilhaber for the league's assist lead (14) and an out-of-sorts Dynamo defense is like chum in the water for the Argentine midfielder.
But Houston's secret this match might be in defender Shaenon Williams, who was acquired from Philadelphia in a trade earlier this year. Williams' familiarity with the attack corps of the Union might provide some stability to a makeshift back line that is likely to be busy all night.
DEF Jermaine Taylor (OUT)
DEF DaMarcus Beasley (DOUBTFUL)
MID Alex Lima (DOUBTFUL)
DEF Kofi Sarkodie (PROBABLE)
MID Luis Garrido (PROBABLE)
MID Jimmy McLaughlin (OUT)
MID Andrew Wenger (OUT)
MATCHES TO WATCH
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES at NYC FC (SAT, 6:00PM): It isn't much to hope for but the end of the season could be prolonged further with a New York win. San Jose are the target for Houston but it won't matter if the 'Quakes are tallying points.
LA GALAXY at REAL SALT LAKE (SAT, 8:30PM): The team from Mormontown came and conquered last weekend but face a stiff challenge at home from the MLS poster boys. For Houston to catch a break, they'll need the Galaxy to put aside their poor road form and win one in Utah.
The Houston Dynamo are in Philadelphia to face the Union at PPL Park on Sunday, September 20th at 6:00PM (CDT). The match is nationally broadcast on FOX Sports 1 and carried via radio on 1560 AM and 850 AM.