KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Tyler Deric picked the best possible time to put on a cape.
Houston's Homegrown goalkeeper made nine saves on Sunday night, preserving a scoreless draw with Sporting Kansas City that saw the Dynamo clinch a spot in the Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2013.
“I was with the team when we were in the playoffs and it was a good feeling,” Deric told reporters after the match, as joyous Latin music pulsed even through the closed locker room doors behind him. “I’ve been desperate to get back ever since and I’m just trying to do whatever I can to contribute any way I can to help this team get there.
“Our goal was to get to the playoffs – that was our first goal – and we have many more goals after that.”
The clinching clean sheet wasn't safe until the final whistle, though; Deric's ninth save came when he denied late sub Latif Blessing from point-blank range in the seventh minute of second-half stoppage time.
“It’s just one of those balls that’s moving around,” Deric said. “You just try to keep your head on a swivel and do whatever you can to keep that ball out of the back of the net.”
The nine-save performance also gives Deric a big confidence boost going into the postseason – but the momentum is more than his alone, he said.
“You want to test yourselves against the best teams,” he said. “Kansas City is a very good team. They are a playoff team, and that is what we are going to see in the next couple weeks. I think it’s a good test for this team.”
Manager Wilmer Cabrera also noted the team effort it took to return Houston to the postseason after they finished bottom of the West table in 2016.
“The good thing is at the end, we have had mostly 31 or 32 different lineups for different reasons,” Cabrera told reporters. “But everyone has played and everyone has been important for the team so at the end, everyone deserves credit.”
That broad-based success – including call-ups from USL affiliate Rio Grande Valley FC – bodes well for a run in the postseason as well, midfielder and captain Ricardo Clark said.
“Our approach has always been the team, fulfilling our roles and different responsibilities within the team,” Clark said. “We have had contributions from everybody. From the young players to the RGV players who have stepped up in different games to the veterans to everybody and we’re thankful that everybody can be counted on when called upon.
“That’s something special, when everybody can contribute when making the playoffs this year.”
The Dynamo didn't know they were in until they checked all of Sunday's other results from the Western Conference and saw themselves four points clear of sixth-place San Jose with only one match to go.
“We enjoy the moment and then we get back at it,” Clark said, “because there’s a lot more room for other things to accomplish, so that’s the approach we take.”