The Houston Dynamo’s path to the playoffs is clear: Win and get in.
Heading into the final weeks of the season, the Dynamo know that 49 points will guarantee them a playoff spot. To get to 49 points, Houston – which currently sits on 43 points and in the final wild card position – will have to win its final two matches, neither of which appears an easy task.
“I think it’s good,” said midfielder Brad Davis of Houston's position. “When stuff’s out of your hands, it’s unsettling. If we go out and perform or don’t perform, we know it’s on us.”
The Dynamo's final two matches come against a team team directly behind them in the standings, the Portland Timbers, and the Supporters’ Shield-winning LA Galaxy. On August 21, Houston defeated the Timbers 2-1 at home, but John Spencer’s side is 4-1-2 since mid-August and has proved a tough team to deal with at JELD-WEN Field.
“We have a game in Portland that will be a playoff atmosphere,” Davis said. “I think our playoffs start then in an amazing atmosphere on the road. I think we’re going to see what our team is made of. Then we have a game with LA where we don’t know what’s going to happen ... but that really doesn’t matter, because we need to get maximum points out of these games to put ourselves in a good spot.”
While the Dynamo control their own fate, they will have an eye on the teams around them. Three teams — D.C. United, Portland, and Chicago — have games in hand on Houston, so the Dynamo know what happens around them will affect their place in the standings.
“It’s always tough when you watch a game like Philly vs. Seattle and we don’t need [the Union] to get a result,” said defender Bobby Boswell. “You watch to know what happens, but six points in these next two games will be huge. If we don’t get results, then we’re going to be a team that’s watching and depending on other teams.”
Without winning their remaining fixtures, the Dynamo's fate will likely be left up to the other teams in the playoff chase.
“We are where we are, and we have the chance to get six points and get into the playoffs,” Davis said. “Some of these training sessions over the past few days have been some of the most intense that we’ve had since I’ve been around. I’d rather know it’s in our hands and that we have that chance.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.