The Houston Dynamo just have to knock off lowly D.C. United.
Some favorable results this weekend have given the Dynamo a better chance to break into the top five in the Eastern Conference, and they will try to secure their spot in the postseason Sunday with a win over D.C. or a tie and some help.
With losses by Montreal and Philadelphia on Saturday, Houston (13-11-9) got the help it needed to have a clear path into the playoffs. A win over D.C. (3-23-7) would give the Dynamo 51 points and guarantee no worse than a fifth-place finish in the East.
Should it tie United on Sunday, Houston would need a New England loss against Columbus on Sunday to get to fifth place. The Revolution's 48 points are the same as the Dynamo's but they occupy the No. 5 spot thanks to their nine-goal advantage over Houston in the season scoring.
Should New England and Houston tie, the Dynamo would need to outscore New England by at least 10 goals this weekend.
Houston can reach as high as third place and avoid an opening-round game with a win and ties/losses from the Revolution and Chicago. Getting a win and one of those ties/losses will put them in fourth and give them a chance to host the first round.
Houston has defeated D.C. by a combined 6-0 margin in this season's two matchups and won 4-0 at RFK Stadium in the most recent of those May 8. Will Bruin scored two goals and assisted on the other two in that victory.
The Dynamo needed two goals in the final 10 minutes of regulation for a 2-0 home win over United in their season opener March 2.
"Just saying 'we beat them twice' and saying 'we're playing D.C., we should win this game,' doesn't mean we will win. We still have to come out, prepare well, have the right mentality," captain Brad Davis told the team's website.
The Dynamo haven't helped their cause lately by earning just one point in the past two games, albeit against the Eastern Conference's top two teams in New York and Sporting Kansas City. Houston gave up a goal to New York in the first eight seconds last Sunday - fastest in league history - and never recovered in a 3-0 defeat.
The Dynamo's next opponent has been outscored 21-8 during an 11-game winless stretch (0-8-3). D.C. couldn't find an answer after giving up a goal in the seventh minute in a 1-0 defeat to Kansas City on Oct. 18.
At best, United can match the fewest wins in an MLS season while spoiling Houston's playoff hopes. The Dynamo eliminated D.C. in last year's Eastern Conference finals before losing to Los Angeles in the MLS Cup.
"Having them knock us out, it's extra motivation to beat them and maybe spoil their season a little bit and help us end on a high note," D.C. midfielder Conor Shanosky told the league's website.
Chivas USA had four wins in its inaugural 2005 campaign and the defunct Tampa Bay Mutiny won four in 2001.
United midfielder Perry Kitchen won't be available for the attempt to avoid that dubious mark as he's serving a suspension for yellow card accumulation.
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