Although only two games remain in the group stage of the 2012-13 CONCACAF Champions League, the Houston Dynamo will be watching those matches eagerly, as the results will determine the Dynamo's opponents in the CCL quarterfinals.
Currently, the Dynamo are ranked sixth out of the six group winners that have completed their games. If that holds, they will play the third-place team (Seattle Sounders) next March in a two-game series. Regardless of tonight's matches, the top three seeds have already been secured.
1. Monterrey vs. 8th seed
2. Santos vs. 7th seed
3. Seattle vs. 6th seed
Here is a look at tonight's games and how they impact the Dynamo's seeding:
LA Galaxy at Metapan
The defending MLS Cup champions have had little trouble through their first three games in Champions League. They opened with dominating wins against Metapan and Puerto Rico at home, before playing a mostly reserve squad at Puerto Rico and coming away with a scoreless draw.
LA is already locked into the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference, so Sunday's match against Seattle has few playoff implications for them. The only advantage to an LA win on Sunday would be to secure three more points in the hopes that they could host a potential MLS Cup meeting with a lower-seeded Eastern Conference team.
Although they have already secured first place in their CCL group, Bruce Arena's squad still has a chance to finish fourth overall and avoid playing one of the top clubs from Mexico in the first round. A Galaxy win or draw would drop the Dynamo to seventh in the overall standings. If LA loses vs. Metapan, they will finish behind the Dynamo in either seventh or eighth, depending on the result of the next match.
Xelaju vs. Chivas de Guadalajara
That next match is one that few expected would carry this much importance when the original schedule came out. Guatemalan club Xelaju shocked a lot of folks in the soccer community when they defeated Chivas 1-0 on August 21 to take the reigns of Group 8. Chivas rebounded well and has given itself an opportunity win the group if they can defeat Xelaju in tonight's match.
If Chivas wins 1-0, they will win the group. If Xelaju scores, Chivas needs to win by two or more goals to win the group. If Xelaju wins or ties, the Guatemalan side will win the group.
What does this match mean for the Dynamo? It's simple.
If Chivas wins the group, they will only finish with seven points and will finish behind the Dynamo in the overall standings. If Xelaju ties tonight, they will win the group with 8 points, but the Dynamo will finish ahead of them due to a strong goal differential. However, If Xelaju wins tonight, they will finish with 10 points, and push the Dynamo into a potential seventh or eighth seed, depending on the result of the LA Galaxy match.