The Houston Dynamo and Sporting Kansas City battled to a scoreless draw at Children’s Mercy Park, a result that helped the club clinch their first playoff berth since the 2013 season. Here are three things we learned from the penultimate match of the season:
1. The Dynamo are playoffs bound
Coming into the season, the main goal for the team was to return to the postseason after a three-year absence. Losses from FC Dallas and Real Salt Lake on Sunday night helped the Dynamo assure a berth in the 2017 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs and the draw made sure the team can’t finish lower than 5th in the Western Conference.
“The most important thing is everything is working for the Houston Dynamo with the plans and the goal from the beginning,” head coach Wilmer Cabrera said after the match. The result against Sporting also guaranteed the Dynamo will finish the season with a winning record.
In Cabrera’s first season with the club, and with 12 newcomers, the team has established an identity and re-established a winning culture. They’re also getting hot at the right time, undefeated in their last five matches with two straight result against possible playoff opponent Sporting Kansas City.
2. Tyler Deric steps up
Tyler Deric secured the draw with a career-high of nine saves. His previous high in a match was eight, earlier this year in 5-1 win against Real Salt Lake on May 31.
Earlier this year, Cabrera expressed that the winner of the goalkeeper battle between Deric and Joe Willis would be the one that could “save” the Dynamo in crucial matches. The Dynamo Academy product won the job and games like Sunday are evidence of why he was chosen as the Dynamo’s No. 1.
Deric continues to show that at his best, he is one of the top shot-stoppers in Major League Soccer. If he continues to play like he did on Sunday, and the attack holds up their end as well, the Dynamo will be a force to reckon with in the postseason.
3. Plenty to play for next week
The biggest impact of Sunday’s result was where it places the club heading into Decision Day. Because of the draw, the Dynamo can finish as high as the third seed in the Western Conference standings depending on the outcome of next Sunday’s results.
Even moving up one spot in the standings would be significant enough to determine whether the Dynamo are hosting a knockout round match or having to play it on the road. This is why the match against Chicago Fire, who have an opportunity to move up in the standings themselves, is as important as any match this year.
The first hurdle has been passed and now the team can focus on determining their fate in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs. It’s playoff season in Houston and the Dynamo want to make it last as far as December.