The Houston Dynamo find themselves in playoff contention thanks mostly to their remarkable efforts on their home field.
Hoping to inch closer to a postseason berth, Houston aims to extend the second-longest home unbeaten streak in MLS history Saturday night against the Montreal Impact.
The fifth-place Dynamo (13-8-10) are one point ahead of Columbus in the race for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. While Houston has gone 3-8-5 on the road, it's the only undefeated home team in the league.
The Dynamo won 2-0 over New England last Saturday to extend their unbeaten streak in Houston to 23. Ricardo Clark and Oscar Garcia scored while Tally Hall recorded his 12th clean sheet - second most in MLS.
"We're tough at home for a reason," defender Bobby Boswell told the team's official website. "Sometimes it ain't the prettiest but all that matters is that we're still undefeated and we're getting wins and that's what we need to do and that's the most important thing."
While Houston has to like its chances of making the playoffs with two of its final three games at home, seventh-place Montreal (12-15-4) could officially fall out of the race this weekend. The Impact are nine points behind the Dynamo with three to play.
"It's a must win, and we're just gonna do everything we can to get the three points and we'll leave it all out there on the field," said forward Andrew Wenger, expected to make his fifth start Saturday.
Montreal concluded last month on an 0-2-1 slide, playing to a scoreless draw with East-leading Sporting Kansas City on Sept. 22. The Impact could have a hard time regrouping on the road, where they've gone 2-12-1 in their first season in the league.
"At the end of the day and as bleak as it looks, we are still not out of it," captain Davy Arnaud told the team's official website. "I think if we can go to Houston on Saturday and win, make Houston think about it a little bit, and as a result, make Columbus think about it a little bit. There still might be a chance for us."
While it looked like Montreal might not have to face Brad Davis earlier this week, last season's runner-up for the MVP has yet to be ruled out after straining his left calf during training Tuesday.
"I don't think it's a major injury," he told the team's official website. "Speaking with the doctor and how it's responded the last few days we're thinking it's going to be tough for me to go Saturday, but I told (coach Dominic Kinnear) I don't want to be counted out just yet."
Houston surrendered its highest goal total of the season in a 4-2 loss at Montreal on June 23 before beating the Impact 3-0 at home July 21.