The Houston Dynamo will not make the MLS Playoffs and the Seattle Sounders will. But there is still plenty on the line for the Sounders when they visit the Bayou City on Sunday afternoon at BBVA Compass Stadium for the penultimate match of the league season.
Seattle (16-11-5, 53 points in 32 matches) has rolled off an MLS-record nine straight wins and have tasted victory in 12 of its past 14 matches.
The Sounders' 2-1 win at Orlando on Wednesday clinched their league-record 10th straight trip to the postseason and moved them to fourth in the Western Conference table. Seattle in great spot to at least host a home match in the knockout round of the playoffs and maybe more.
"I feel a little spoiled just being part of this organization and playing in the playoffs each year," Seattle midfielder Cristian Roldan said after the win in Orlando. "You know it's a difficult thing to do -- this is a quality organization. We're very proud of what we're doing and hopefully we can continue this."
If Seattle can continue its late-season surge and win out (and with matches against Houston and West cellar-dweller San Jose remaining, that's entirely possible) it can perhaps jump Sporting Kansas City and Los Angeles FC into second place and garner a first-round bye.
"They gutted the performance out," Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer said. "I love the way our team is in the sense that they have a good mindset. At home, on the road, it doesn't matter. They never quit."
If the Sounders falter, they could lose the home-field match, with Cascadia Cup rival Portland just two points behind Seattle and Real Salt Lake four points in arrears. But, given recent form, that seems unlikely.
Meanwhile, the Dynamo (9-15-8, 35 points in 32 games) can't wait for the season to wrap up after an injury-filled and disappointing campaign. Houston, which played in the Western Conference finals last season, is trying to bounce back from consecutive defeats in which its allowed four goals in each of the matches.
The Dynamo fell to LAFC 4-2 last Friday after dropping a 4-1 decision to Seattle two weeks ago in the Emerald City.
"When you play Seattle or LAFC, you have to play your best and we haven't and we got punished," Houston coach Wilmer Cabrera said after the loss to LAFC. "We had a good plan, but you have to execute it well and you have to perform well and do your job. When you make it too easy to the middle, you can't win.
"When you concede eight goals in two games, it's really bad. At this point we can say it's been unlucky, or a situation with the injuries, but when you get on the field you have to do your job."
The Sounders have never won a regular season match in Houston, though Seattle did capture a 2-0 victory there in last season's Western Conference finals.
Seattle owns a 6-4 all-time lead in the 16-match series with the Dynamo, with six draws. The Dynamo has won four of the eight games competed in Houston, with four ties, and has outscored the Sounders 14-8 in those matches.