What good is a pre-ordained narrative if you can’t completely wreak it? After all it was supposed to be the Seattle Sounders facing the Portland Timbers to see who would represent the Western Conference in the MLS Cup. The Houston Dynamo weren’t supposed to make it to the Western Conference Championship. They weren’t supposed to make it past Sporting Kansas City or the Portland Timbers but they did it. Now on Tuesday night the Houston Dynamo will host the Seattle Sounders in the first game of the Western Conference Championship.
How they got here
The Houston Dynamo are not the team they were in 2016. In fact they are quite the opposite. After an offseason full of roster changes and a new head coach, 2017 was supposed to be a rebuilding year for the Houston Dynamo. Instead 2017 became the year that the Dynamo finally started to look like their old, Championship selves. They played many brilliant games at home at BBVA Compass Stadium but struggled on the road garnering just one road win this season. They even captured first place in the Western Conference for a few weeks.
They eventually ended the season above the playoff line and found themselves playing in the play-in game for a spot in the Western Conference playoffs. As the higher seed they hosted Sporting Kansas City. Neither team was able to score in regular time of the game sending it to added extra time. Alberth Elis scored in the fourth minute of added extra time which was enough to send the team through to the semi-finals.
In their home-and-away series against the Portland Timbers the first leg was played at BBVA and ended in a 0-0 draw between the two. In the second in Portland, Houston found the back of the net twice in their 2-1 win.
Seattle’s presence in the Western Conference Championship was more or less expected. They are the reigning MLS Cup Champs after their win to close out the 2016 post-season. Seattle finished the season number two in the Western Conference which meant that they got to sit out the play-in round of the playoffs.
In their first playoff game against the Vancouver Whitecaps, the Sounders played them to a 0-0 draw. The follow-up game, held in Seattle, saw Clint Dempsey score a brace to power the Sounders to a 2-0 victory and the next round of the playoffs.
So we meet again
The two kicked off the 2017 MLS regular season against each other in Houston in a game that saw Houston victorious, 2-1. The second game between the two in June was less celebratory for Houston when they lost 1-0 to Seattle on the road.
Now Houston will host the first leg of the playoff game at 8:30 pm CT on Tuesday. That game will be followed by at November 30 game between the two with kick off at 9:30 pm CT.
On the field
After a long international break, all players are expected to be back from international duty to play for their club teams. Houston will have it’s three Honduran players, Boniek Garcia, Alberth Elis and Romell Quioto, returning. They were part of the Honduran team that was eliminated from the World Cup by Australia during the break. After Houston advanced in the playoffs Panamanian Adolfo Machado turned down his call-up for a friendly match to stay and train with the Dynamo.
The Dynamo will still be without AJ DeLaGarza who tore his ACL in the last game of the regular season. They continue to be without Tyler Deric who is currently on suspension due to an alleged domestic violence incident.
On the rave green side of the ball, Roman Torres turned down a national team call up to stay and prepare with Seattle. Gustav Svensson and Nicolas Lodeiro both saw action for their respective national teams.
The Sounders are expected to have Victor Rodriguez and Osvaldo Alonso back from injuries and in their quiver of options. Jordan Morris is also expected to be back from his hamstring injury.
Houston host the Sounders on Tuesday night at 8:30 pm CT and will be broadcast live on Fox Sports 1.