A few weeks ago, Dynamo defender Bobby Boswell commented that the Eastern Conference was much improved from last year. If you take a quick look at the standings it's hard to disagree with the veteran defender.
In 2011, the Dynamo finished second in the Eastern Conference with 49 points, but did not crack the 40-point mark until their 31st game of the season, a 1-0 win at FC Dallas on September 24. This season, the Dynamo reached the 40-point plateau in just their 23rd game, a 2-0 home win over the New York Red Bulls.
Over the past few weeks, Houston has seen first-hand just how dangerous the Eastern Conference can be and how valuable it is to earn points when you can. The team is currently in a string of 14 consecutive games against conference foes. This weekend's match against Columbus (8 pm, FOX Sports Houston, MultiMedios) will be the 12th consecutive match against a team from the East.
The Dynamo's 14-game run against the Eastern Conference began with a 3-3 draw against Toronto FC on June 20. They followed that up with a 4-2 loss to the Montreal Impact which left them at 5-5-5 and in fifth place in the conference. Nine games and six wins later, the Dynamo now sit in third place in the Eastern Conference, only three points behind Sporting Kansas City.
With eight of their remaining 10 games against conference foes, the Dynamo will be looking to get back on the right foot this weekend, when the Crew pay their first visit to BBVA Compass Stadium. If the Dynamo win, they could potentially jump back to the top spot in the Eastern Conference. If the Dynamo lose they risk falling into the fourth spot in the East, the last spot with which a home playoff game is guaranteed.
As one of only two teams in MLS to be undefeated at home in 2012, home playoff games will be critical if the Dynamo look to make a run back to the MLS Cup Final.