The Story: Seattle needs three points to lock down their playoff spot, eyeing this home match against the last place Dynamo as the time to get them. Houston is out of the race, and with other things in mind, the club has experimented with roster positions and formations in the last stretch of the season.
The Stakes: For Seattle, the road to the playoffs gets tough after this match with an away game at FCD and a home game against Real Salt Lake. They’ll want to earn their points at home vs. Houston. Jordan Morris has returned early to the club after playing in the USMNT friendly against Cuba, signaling the club’s focus on this match. Houston is not playing just for pride or anything else sentimental. The club and coach have already begun focusing on 2017 and will use the remaining games to elevate the level of play beyond the mediocrity seen for most of the season.
The Trend: Seattle is on fire. A four game win streak since mid-September has rocketed them into the picture while rivals Portland have suffered. Two wins out of their remaining three games could mean a home game in the first round. Houston’s streak….not so hot. Two straight losses have sent the club reeling after their first back to back wins of the season. The Dynamo are finding their silver linings though, claiming the El Capitan trophy of the Texas Derby one of them.
The Game: Now with the playoff option completely shut down, how does Houston respond? Last weekend against Colorado not only did we see more time for recent signee Jose Escalante, the club actually transitioned to a 4-4-2 formation with a Will Bruin sub midway through the second half. Seattle is likely to go straight for the jugular, through Osvaldo Alonso and up to Morris. Expect them to hold nothing back. Brad Evans returned last week after missing several games due to injury, but he will miss this game as well due to a red card. Dempsey, troublingly, will miss the remainder of the season due to health issues.
Tune in to watch the Dynamo take on the Sounders at 9:30 pm CT at CenturyLink field in Seattle.