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Trask Smith

Standings Watch: What to watch and who to root for in Week 29

A run of four games without a win has put the Houston Dynamo below the red line in the Western Conference going into this weekend’s matches. Sitting in seventh place, the Dynamo are tied on points with both sixth-place Real Salt Lake and eighth-place FC Dallas and just a point behind the San Jose Earthquakes in fifth place. The Dynamo do have games in hand against both San Jose and RSL – giving them a better points per game mark – but it’ll be up to the Dynamo to make those count in the weeks ahead.

Let’s take a look at the weekend’s big matches and what results the Dynamo need.

Saturday, September 23

New York City FC vs. Houston Dynamo (2 p.m. CT | UniMás, Facebook Live)

Obviously a road win for the Dynamo would be huge against one of the Eastern Conference’s best teams in NYCFC, but even a draw could bump them back up above the red line. The Blues have been good at home in the tight confines of Yankee Stadium (10-2-3 record), but this weekend’s match will be played at Pratt & Whitney Stadium in East Hartford, Connecticut. It’ll be a new surface for both teams, so we’ll see if the Dynamo can take capitalize on the lack of a true homefield advantage.

HOU remaining games (6): at NYC, vs. LA, vs. MIN, vs. SKC, at SKC, vs. CHI

D.C. United vs. San Jose Earthquakes (6 p.m. CT | MLS Live)

As always with interconference matchups, root for the Eastern Conference team. This one is of extra importance for the Dynamo, with San Jose just a point ahead in the standings. A cross-country flight for the Quakes isn’t easy, but RFK Stadium hasn’t been a fortress for D.C. this season – their seven losses at home are the second most in the league.

SJ remaining games (5): at DC, vs. CHI, vs. POR, at VAN, vs. MIN

Minnesota United FC vs. FC Dallas (7 p.m. CT | MLS Live)

Minnesota United has lost once in their last four matches and host an FC Dallas side that has gone nine games without a win. Obviously, root for Minnesota to stretch that to 10. The Loons are pretty much out of the playoff race, but they can deal a big blow to Dallas’ postseason hopes on Saturday night.

DAL remaining games (6): at MIN, vs. COL, at ORL, at COL, at SEA, vs. LA

Real Salt Lake vs. Seattle Sounders FC (8:30 p.m. CT | MLS Live)

At this juncture, it’s all about getting into the playoffs for the Dynamo. A Seattle win would be a big help for the Dynamo in achieving that – RSL is tied with Houston on 38 points but have a tiebreaker advantage putting them in the sixth and final playoff spot at the moment. The upside for the Dynamo: Real Salt Lake has played two more games, so there’s points for the taking to surge past. Seattle is in a three-way tie for second in the West with 44 points. Still within reach for the Dynamo before the season ends, but just making the playoffs is first priority.

RSL remaining games (4): vs. SEA, at LA, at COL, vs. SKC

SEA remaining games (5): at RSL, vs. VAN, at PHI, vs. DAL, vs. COL

Vancouver Whitecaps FC vs. Colorado Rapids (9 p.m. CT | MLS Live)

Vancouver has jumped to the top of the Western Conference on the back of five home games in their last six, and picking up four wins and two draws in those six matches. This is the last home match for the ‘Caps before finishing with four of their last five games on the road. A Colorado win or even a draw could help keep Vancouver within reach for the Dynamo if they can string together results while the Whitecaps are on the road.

VAN remaining games (6): vs. COL, at SEA, at SKC, at NY, vs. SJ, at POR

Sunday, September 24

Sporting Kansas City vs. LA Galaxy (1 p.m. CT | FOX, FOX Deportes)

Open Cup hangover for Sporting KC? LA picking up a result at Children’s Mercy Park would be helpful to the Dynamo, as Sporting is part of the three-way tie for second place on 44 points. With back-to-back games against SKC looming in October, the Dynamo have a real chance to make up that gap, especially if Sporting drops points in the meantime.

SKC remaining games (6): vs. LA, vs. VAN, at MIN, at HOU, vs. HOU, at RSL

Portland Timbers vs. Orlando City SC (7 p.m. CT | FS1, Fox Deportes)

Root for Orlando here to keep Portland within striking distance in the West table. The Timbers are the third team in the second place pile-up, but have played two more games than the Dynamo. An upset in Portland can only help Houston.

POR remaining games (4): vs. ORL, at SJ, vs. DC, vs. VAN