All-time record: Seattle leads 3-1-2 (2-0-1 regular season)
2:45 p.m. KHOU 11.2 (English)
3:00 p.m. TeleFutura (Spanish)
2:30 p.m. La Ranchera 850 (Spanish)
Game Guide - downloadable PDF
Gameday Information - gates open 2 p.m., arrive early to ensure long-sleeved replica jersey giveaway and being in place by kickoff
When the MLS schedule-makers decided to end the season with a showdown between Seattle and Houston, they were likely thinking there would be more on the line between 2009’s second- and third-place teams in the Western Conference.
While the Sounders have earned a playoff spot this year, a disappointing 2010 season for the Dynamo has taken some of the luster off this game between two potential rivals. Two months ago, Seattle thoroughly beat Houston 2-0 to put an end to any thoughts of a Dynamo postseason.
Still, it's a meaningful game for Seattle, which is looking to jockey for playoff postitioning. For Houston, a season-ending win at home would take away a little bit of the sting of a disappointing 2010.
Houston has yet to put together two successive victories in MLS since June 2009 and will get its last chance to do it against the Sounders. Last week, the Dynamo dismantled the playoff-bound San Jose Earthquakes and will hope to get their second playoff scalp in two weeks. While the 2010 season is one the Houston organization will want to soon forget, ending the year with two consecutive victories over playoff-bound teams might give the team something to smile about.
The Dynamo might be as healthy as they have been all year, with every player except Colin Clark training on Thursday, including goalkeeper Tally Hall, whom head coach Dominic Kinnear has not had the option of selecting as of late due to a high ankle sprain suffered by the 'keeper.
"I think it's been a disappointing year," said defender Bobby Boswell. "I know you always want to say that if you go in with a win at the end of the year it's good, but we're a team that hold itself to a higher standard, and that's playoff soccer. ... It's very frustrating because our job is to play and win, and we haven't done that this year."
The Sounders enter their final regular-season game as one of the hottest teams in all of MLS – they have won five straight in league play and secured the U.S. Open Cup for the second straight year. They'll be hoping to continue that momentum into the MLS Cup Playoffs with a victory in Houston rather than being tripped up and ending their regular season on a sour note.
This match will also have big significance in playoff seeding for Seattle, which can potentially leapfrog FC Dallas in the table with a win. If the Sounders lose, San Jose or Colorado could potentially leapfrog them. By the end of the match, they could be staring at a first-round playoff date against any of four different teams.
The Sounders will be without leading scorer Fredy Montero, out due to yellow card accumulation.
Heroes & villains
Steve Zakuani vs. Andrew Hainault: Seattle's left winger has an impressive 10 goals and six assists in 2010 and just picked up MLS Player of the Week honors. While Fredy Montero gets more of the headlines, Zakuani has blossomed this season and will hope to continue to make his impact felt into the playoffs.
Hainault is a very solid defensive back one-on-one, but when matched up with extremely fast players like Zakuani who can get behind him, he has had some problems. If Hainault can link up offensively with whomever is playing in front of him, Houston may pin the Congo-born speedster back and force him to play more defense than he would like.
Stat that makes you go “Hmm...”
The Dynamo pulled in more fans per game this season in MLS play than the NBA's Houston Rockets did in 2009-10.
- Jump out early to test a Seattle squad that may be looking ahead to the playoffs.
- Find Dominic Oduro behind Seattle's defense.
- Exploit speed advantage attacking on flanks.
- Nathan Sturgis and Osvaldo Alonso must disrupt Dynamo's possession and create turnovers.
OUT: MF Colin Clark (L knee surgery)
OUT: MF Brad Evans (R patellar tendon); DF Jhon Kennedy Hurtado (L ACL); FW Pat Noonan (adductor strain); MF Peter Vagenas (R quadriceps strain)